Jane Huxley, Pandora internet radio’s managing director, is passionate about being disruptive. As part of our Women in Media series we sat down for a chinwag to find out what drives her. Just don’t ask her to give you directions…
Who or what inspired you to go into the industry?
It’s an interesting one. I don’t remember a specific point of inspiration, rather a serendipitous combination of events, if you like.
What drives you?
I’m really passionate about the future. This blank sheet of paper. To that end, I was a geek at Microsoft in `89, and there is a geek inside of me that I just indulge. I have no fear of change. No fear of momentum. I’m really passionate about disrupting today, regardless of the industry I’m in. The one thing about change is that it is going to happen, it’s unavoidable. Whether it be tech, media, telco or radio – whatever it is, I feel as passionately. It’s kind of a hobby, which is nice.
How do you get others on-board with your vision?
You talk. One of the best things you can be is the ultimate communicator. It comes back to be born with a microphone in my hand. I love to communicate and talk and tell stories and all those things. When I left school, what I actually wanted to do was go to the Billy Blue School of Art. But I didn’t have the right results and we didn’t have the money.
Who would be your dream person to stick the microphone in front of?
I’ve got thousands of them. Gosh, so many. I admire a lot of different things in a lot of different people. The ability to communicate. The ability to lead. The ability to be focused on detail. The ability to see the future. The ability to learn from the past. All of these different kinds of attributes that exist in a bookshelf of heroes. I don’t know that I have a singular hero, because this idea of a singular hero to me is a bit of limitation. It’s like when you have a dinner party, you don’t have one person at the table. People say, ‘who are your 12 dinner guests?’ Because if it was just one person, it would be my husband, you know? But he’s not my hero because he can’t keep the towel up off the floor!
What did your school reports say?
What is so bizarre is that my mother will tell you that on my school reports throughout high school, the one piece of feedback I consistently got was, ‘Jane is disruptive’, so I thought, ‘bugger it, why not make a career out of the very thing I used to get in trouble for?’
Do you think women can ‘have it all’?
I don’t want it all. Jesus, what would I do with it? I don’t want it all. I want an elegant sufficiency, and on my grave I want it to say, ‘she had an elegant sufficiency.’ The caveat is hire the best people you can, then get out of the way and let them do what they’re good at, and trust that they will come and talk to you in the good times and the bad times. I have a kick-ass management team and my job is to continually sew that team together, every single day. If they are talking to each other, my work is done.
What are you most proud of?
What we’re doing here at Pandora. I think the momentum is so tangible and the quality of the people that are coming to work for the company. Some of them say, ‘I believe in this, in what you’re saying and I’m just going to get on board.’ It’s such palpable momentum. I’m very proud of our culture. I’m probably the proudest of where we’re at right now with Pandora.
What’s your secret shame?
I am one of these people that has built a very successful life and career, despite the fact that I struggle to tell left from right. If you said to me, ‘go left’, I literally have to stop and think. I failed my driving test the first time I took it because he said, ‘go left’ and I went right. When I took my second driving test, I had to write it on my hand.
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