“I’ve Made A career Out Of Disruption”: Pandora MD, Jane Huxley

May 2013. Sydney. Jane Huxley, Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand, Pandora. (www.milestonesphotography.com.au)

Pandora managing director is one of Australia’s top powerhouses when it comes to digital, and she says has been always been disruptive, even as a child.

With a TMT background – technology, media, telco ­– Huxley held senior positions at Microsoft and Vodafone before becoming the CEO and publisher of Fairfax Digital in 2010.

Two years later she joined internet radio company Pandora and in an interview with B&T she explains how she loves being disruptive.

“I’ve made a career out of it,” says Huxley. “At Fairfax Digital we disrupted ourselves from within the organization and at Microsoft, what we were disrupting there was this sense of IBM mainframes and very big, very expensive computers. Our dream at that time in the early 90s was to have a computer on every desk and in every home. That was the mission of the company and we weren’t sure if we could achieve it – it was a big dream at the time – but of course now we’re carrying around six computers on our bodies.”

Speaking of the early days, Huxley, who was at Microsoft for 16 years before joining Vodafone, says there was always going to be a time when the media and technology industries collided. “Really, disruptive started out at Microsoft,” she added, “being a challenger brand in every product line and in wanting to disrupt those big giants of industry. I went to Vodafone and the disruption there was really all about two things; it was all about disrupting landlines, cutting the cord, moving people over to mobile.

“But it was also about disrupting the content industry, because just being able to make a phone call was not going to be enough to get people to cut the landlines. They were the early days of content, and walled gardens, and those kinds of things on mobile. We were trying to disrupt a really traditional industry.”

Huxley moved to Fairfax as the general manager of media in 2008 and says that she didn’t particularly plan the move in as much as “landed”.

“I got in through the side-door of technology,” she said. “I just kind of landed. I seemed to be talking about media more than anything else and although my career wasn’t planned that way, technology led me into telco, and that led me into the media industry which was really true Fairfax, i.e content pushed out by technology platforms, and moving towards mobile.”

In what was an unusual move then, Huxley’s role at Fairfax was to oversee the digital side of the business and disrupt print, but to do it from within the organisation.

“That was a different perspective,” she explained. “You are disrupting your own business model. We were disrupting print. We were disrupting consumption. We were disrupting time of day, format and even journalism, in a sense. And now here I am at Pandora, and of course our role here is to disrupt traditional radio. I feel like I was always meant to be in the place that I am right now.”

Ironically, laughed Huxley, even her school reports labelled her “disruptive,” and she joked that at least she’s only now putting it to good use. The mother-of-two has been asked to do a presentation at her old school during assembly.

“I said to them, ‘I’d love to come, but can I bring my mother?’” she said. “They said yes so I joked, ‘fantastic, because she has never gone into that school without having to get me out of the principal’s office.’ Finally she gets to walk through those school gates with her head held high 25 years later!”

Huxley will be one of the chief speakers at Daze of Disruption in Sydney next Monday and Tuesday the 18th and 19th of May. She is doing her presentation on Tuesday.


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