Disruptors must put customer first, MFA 5+ event told

Jane Huxley and Simon Griffiths who spoke at the latest MFA 5+ Inspiration Series event.

Jane Huxley and Simon Griffiths who spoke at the latest MFA 5+ Inspiration Series event.

The philosophy of never taking your eye of the needs of the customer is a crucial element of being a successful digital disruptor, according to Jane Huxley, managing director of internet radio company Pandora for Australia and New Zealand.

“A deep customer-orientation is critical to disruption, or it’s just disruption for disruption sake. It’s just innovation for innovation sake unless you have a clear purpose of serving your customer,” Ms Huxley told the Media Federation of Australia’s 5+ Inspiration Series event held Sydney last week.

“When everyone else is confused or not knowing where to go or what to do next, or there’s too many options or too many choices, the person in the room who says, ‘what does the customer think?’ is the person that will shine the light out of the situation.”

Ms Huxley identified “customer-orientation” as one of several “c-word” behaviours that were essential “to be a disruptor, an innovator and then to go on to make a difference”.

She also identified curiosity, craving for knowledge, courage, conviction and challenging common wisdom and perception.

Ms Huxley is no stranger to being a disruptor, or working in a company with a disruptive vision.

She previously worked at Microsoft in the 1990s where their vision was to put a computer on every desk and Vodafone in the early 2000s when its vision was to cut out the landline.

Ms Huxley also worked as Fairfax Media’s CEO and publisher of digital from 2008 to 2011 at a time of great transition for the company and the broader publishing industry.

The MFA 5+ Inspiration Series is held up to four times a year and designed to inspire media professionals to create and lead successful careers. It is supported by The Newspaper Works.

Also speaking at the event was social entrepreneur Simon Griffiths who discussed his exploration of “consumer-driven philanthropy”.

Mr Griffiths co-founded Sheebeen, a Melbourne bar that donates its profits to countries in the developing world, with funds distribution based on the country-of-origin of drinks sold.

He also co-founded Who Gives a Crap, an environmentally-friendly toilet paper company whose profits contribute to building toilets and improving sanitation in the developing world.

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