Did you know B&T’s second-ever Women Leading Tech Awards are just a couple of months away? In the lead up to this year’s awards, we will be chatting with last year’s winners to find out what they’ve been up to since claiming their trophies.
Today we’re talking to Jessica Box, who took out the Mentor prize in our 2020 awards. Jessica is the managing director of Girls in Tech Australia and more recently, she has also joined social tech platform Linktree as Head of Growth.
Have you got your entry in for the 2021 Women Leading Tech awards? Be quick! Entries close soon. For more info click here.
What was your initial reaction to winning this award?
I firstly couldn’t believe that a remote awards ceremony could feel so much like a physical one! But I was humbled and grateful for the recognition of the ladies and male champions behind Girls in Tech Australia who made it possible. We have 100+ volunteers around Australia, so I excitedly shared this with them in recognition of their contribution to transforming gender equality in tech.
We know that a lot has changed in the world since you entered into the awards last year. What has changed for you professionally?
In April last year, I joined social tech platform Linktree as its Head of Growth. Linktree democratises the discovery of content by connecting followers to their entire online ecosystem — not just one feed. Since the pandemic we have grown immensely, from 4 million users at the start of the lockdown to now over 11 million, with an average of 30K sign ups per day.
In that time we’ve transitioned into a distributed workforce, which has been a terrific challenge. Maintaining team culture and mental health has truly been front and centre and as we’ve scaled from 12 to a team of over 65, it’s been critical to ensure we have the tools and initiatives in place to prioritise employee wellbeing and enable open communication.
Alongside Linktree, I’m continuing my work at Girls in Tech Australia as its Managing Director. My role involves leading a community of women who are passionate about connecting and inspiring the next generation venturing into tech. Having worked in the tech sector for the last 12 years and leading growth at one of Australia’s fastest growing startups today, supporting and empowering Australia’s diverse tech workforce remains a huge passion of mine and I’m excited to continue driving change in a thriving tech ecosystem through both Linktree and Girls in Tech.
Do you have a technologist hero? If so, who is it and why?
I completely idolise Whitney Wolfe Herd. I vividly remember reading this article in Forbes and thinking “I want to be her when I grow up” (being nearly her age at the time!).
How she goes about business is creating a new generation of not only dating apps, but CEO’s and equal boardrooms.
She has built empowerment into Bumble’s brand ethos of “make the first move” which is now translating across industries and transforming a typically male-dominated seat at the table into one of diverse thinkers making better choices in business.
How does your role combine creativity and technology?
Balancing creativity and technology is key to my role at Linktree. As Head of Growth, I sit at the intersection between traditional marketing and product development, which requires me tapping into both my analytical brain and my creative brain in perfect unison.
Beyond simply driving user growth, my team’s objectives include listening to our global community, continuously finding innovative ways to address their product needs and working cross-functionally to create change across the entire customer lifecycle. It’s challenging and involves constant experimentation, but the freedom to test new tactics across channels and within the product itself to discover what works is truly rewarding.
What do you do to develop your leadership style?
Day to day, listening to feedback from my team is crucial for me to develop as a leader. I have standing agenda items in our 1:1s so we have a two-way dialogue around areas for improvement, which also removes the fear factor of feedback only being for a “formal review” on both sides.
This all hinges on cultivating a leadership style that rewards the behaviours we value as a company and builds a culture based on trust.
Outside of the workplace, I’m a huge fan of podcasts and audiobooks to learn from leaders who have been there and done it before, as well as the incredible board at Girls in Tech Australia who I lean on often for sound advice.
Do you believe leadership is a learned skill or is it something that comes naturally?
While leadership can definitely be learned and cultivated, people have different leadership styles and understanding how we are naturally inclined to communicate in a team setting is a vital first step for creating meaningful outcomes.
In male-dominated environments, it can sometimes feel difficult to operate from a place of empathy and vulnerability, so, as a woman in tech, I’ve always been really conscious of supporting all voices within my teams. My personal leadership style has always been to lead and nurture from the back — to lay a clear path forward, but then listen, observe and raise my team up for their successes.
What will be the biggest innovation of 2021?
It’s exciting to see how marketers, tech companies and users alike are changing their approach to data. Not only are marketers utilising data in new ways to uncover insights about their products and audiences, but they are using these insights to drive effective change.
Alongside the integration of data to power decision-making, customers are becoming increasingly aware of their own data and the power that data has for businesses. Privacy, transparency and ownership around data ethics is an emerging trend and the portability of data between services will likely become a requirement from the user.
For us at Linktree, the ethical use of data is not a trend — it has always been core to our product ideology and we remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy first and foremost. We’ve always been candid about never selling user data and it’s great to see change and increased awareness in this burgeoning area.
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