Gina is one of the most impactful and inspirational women in technology today. Gina started her technology career as a software developer and is enjoying a highly successful career in international TMT. As VP Global Partner Engagement for Open Connect at Netflix, Gina also holds several non-executive appointments.
If you don’t know, the Netflix culture memo (first shared in 2009), check it out. With a focus on building excellence as standard, it talks of outcomes not attendance, unlimited paid time off and the drive for integrity, excellence, respect, inclusion, and collaboration. The intention being to hire and maintain a Dream Team “in which all of your colleagues are extraordinary at what they do and are highly effective collaborators”. We think the Netflix culture has never been more relevant to the world of work.
With remarkable passion and a global mindset, Gina has found her perfect home at Netflix. Gina kindly shared some insights to her views on leadership.
Who is the leader who most influenced your early career?
Rudy Alexander and Gail McGovern, both from AT&T. Rudy saw my potential and trusted me. He would clearly identify my objectives then give me scope to learn and deliver. He allowed me space to create my own way, rather them emulate him.
Rudy strongly recommended I undertake an MBA to further my career. At the time, with children aged 2 and 4, I was understandably concerned about balancing graduate study, a demanding full-time role and family. Gail (my mentor) felt that I did not ‘need an MBA’ to achieve my career goals but that it would eliminate a disqualifier. At the time there was often a tick box exercise to access a selection process. She believed an MBA would act as a leveller – which it has.
Remote leadership is a challenge for many today. What advice can you share?
Treat people as adults. Transparency is important. I have never monitored my team. Trusting people to deliver is vital. It is important to allow people room to make mistakes and learn from them.
My role is to understand where there is critical alignment to facilitate that. To enable that, communication is vital. You cannot assume that even the smartest people will understand the context. It is so important to make sure communication is clear.
To be highly aligned you naturally have more meetings. To balance that, and being sensitive to the needs of everyone working at home, we have “meeting free Fridays” to allow thinking time.
How do you continue learning when you’re ‘top of the pile’?
To date my career decisions have partly been based on the growth opportunities a role has afforded me. I have had to have confidence in the transferable nature of my experience, to innovate and learn a new discipline. This has allowed me to grow.
Having started my technology career in software development, I have had roles as diverse as customer service, sales and investor relations before leading business units. The consistent theme has been continued learning.
In today’s complex and uncertain world, what do you see as the biggest challenge for leaders?
Multi- generational leadership. With 4 generations in the workplace, each offering different value through their perspectives yet needing different things from their leader, the challenge of creating an environment where each can not only coexist but thrive and be energised.
What are the most important things (values or behaviours) you look for when hiring? And why?
A balance of hard and soft skills.
Independent thought. Hard to measure, but the ability that an individual brings to leverage their experience and knowledge and apply it in a new environment.
Passion and commitment but most importantly compassion- the ability to be empathetic and recognise the value of others.
Resourcefulness, my team need to be able to utilise the right tools for each situation and internationally that may not always be the same solution.
What advice would you share with your 18 year old self?
Be your real self in the workplace. Be confident in your ability – do not stifle your potential by trying to fit in and mimic others. Do not try to be someone else or assume they are better – there is a place for the real you.