Twelve Questions: Jane Hastings

Jane Hastings, chief executive of The Radio Network, began her management career at Air New Zealand and has worked in senior leadership roles in Asia and Australasia, including many years in Japan. The mother of three children under 12 is a former dance teacher who has no time for gender politics.

Jane Hastings says the biggest risk is not doing anything at all. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Jane Hastings says the biggest risk is not doing anything at all. Photo / Sarah Ivey

1. How would your adversaries describe you?

The number one thing I think would be Hurricane Jane. I've heard that before. I'm straight up, exceptionally fair, creative and I will make a decision and have no fear of changing if it's going off direction. I don't believe in hierarchy. Ideas come from everywhere. I believe in getting stuck in.

2. That sounds more like what your supporters might say?

Hopefully it's the same thing. One thing I have had to learn is patience. And if Asia doesn't teach you patience I don't know what would.

3. How would you describe your childhood in Papatoetoe?

Real. I grew up in a family of four but was the youngest by a long shot. It was all about playing outside, barefoot and bikes, eating at whatever neighbourhood house had the best option and playing "murder in the dark" - which as a parent I am glad is now called "spotlight". I went to Papatoetoe High School which was a very forward-looking school and they taught Japanese, among other things, there.

4. What lessons did you learn from your parents?

My parents have been my rock over the years. They will always tell it like it is and there is nothing better than sitting on their floor in the lounge relaxing and chatting about life. My mum has always been a "what doesn't hurt you won't kill you" type and if you have your health and love in your life what else do you need? My dad is the entrepreneur who has had about nine lives and ventured into several careers. He just looks at me and says "stop talking about it and just do it ... doors will open if you take the first step". They are both 100 per cent right.

5. When your father's businesses succeeded, or failed, how would it affect the family?

He has won and lost to all extremes over the years but he never stops finding opportunity. We saw the good times and the stresses they brought but failure never brought him down. As a kid you don't fear failure because you have lived it up and down and guess what, it's not the end of the world. You don't freak out. I'm a very optimistic person and very positive and I always carry the mantra that it's going to be okay.

6. You went to Japan at 17 on a school exchange, and worked there for many years. What are the best and worst aspects of Japanese life?

Life in Japan is how you may imagine life to be on Mars. Everything is different. I have lived in several Asian countries but Japan is like no other. It is organised, conservative, disciplined and focused by day and wild, creative, dynamic and fluid by night. The best parts outside of the food, service and scenery was the forward thinking and innovative nature of the people. The technology we are talking about today, they had implemented 10 years ago. Leading the creation of a joint venture between DraftWorldwide (New York) and Commons (Japan) taught me patience, tenacity and creative thinking. The worst parts would be trying to find your way around as Tokyo doesn't have street numbers and is a concrete jungle. I spoke Japanese so had a slight advantage but my husband had to go out with a GPS permanently attached.

7. What could New Zealand learn from its corporate culture?

Silence is powerful at the right times. When East meets West, the East gets the power of body language, silence and patience. The West finds silence awkward, can be impatient and feels the need to fill the gaps. I experienced occasions when the Japanese teams walked away with more than they had bargained for when the Western side of the negotiation talked their way through the silence.

8. As a girl you studied dance, with a group of now highly successful women including Barbara Kendall, Wendy Petrie and Suzy Aiken. Was that training for business too?

There are a lot of great women floating around Auckland who were inspired by our dance teacher Julie Cotter. She had the most perfect balance of left and right brain - very creative but a lateral thinker. Intelligent and inspirational. She was strict, but could break it down to a personal level for you and we all learned to be the best we could be. My brother used to tell me I didn't do sport, that dance was uncompetitive. But we were a team. We competed six times a year. We had to have a strategy and be in sync and we had to perform. It was all about discipline and fitness.

9. Have you encountered much sexism in the corporate world?

I just discounted it from the beginning. I grew up in a family with older brothers, a sister and a strong father and I never felt there was any gender difference in our household. I won't let myself be treated any differently and I don't believe that a person needs to change who they are or disguise what they want based on gender. If it does happen, it's about confronting it and laughing it off. Don't take it too seriously.

10. What lessons will you teach your children?

My girls and son teach me something every day but the key lessons are to never fear failure and never take yourself too seriously. Live life to the fullest, take every opportunity, retain an open mind and laugh every day.

11. Are you disciplined in all areas of your life?

Well, my rule is I get to 6.30pm on a Friday and make no decisions until I wake up on Saturday morning. It is my decision time off. That's when I just go with the flow. Let other people decide what we do or choose what we eat. It's something I taught myself many years ago and it's very good for the mind and soul.

12. You've had a year at TRN and made some big changes - revamping Radio Hauraki and launching the I Heart Radio digital platform. Do you like risk?

I love transforming business and when you're trying to move forward, all decisions carry a risk. All you can do is take the best information, talk to your customers and move a business forward. The biggest risk is not doing anything at all.

- NZ Herald

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