Ms Jacqueline Feeney
About the speaker
Our speaker today is Ms Jacqueline Feeney.
Jacqueline is the Managing Director of Fox International Channels in Australia and New Zealand. She oversees all aspects of the company’s operations covering programming, marketing, advertising sales, finance and regulation, as well as the management of affiliate partner relationships.
Prior to her current position, she held a number of positions within Foxtel including her role as Lead Negotiator and Relationship Manager for the portfolio of third party entertainment, movies and news. Jacqueline has held other media positions including her work with the World Movies Channel, Screen NSW, BBC London and ABC Television.
Jacqueline is a member on the Board of the Documentary Australia Foundation and has held a number of Board responsibilities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macquarie University and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from UTS.
It gives me great pleasure to invite Ms Jacqueline Feeney to deliver the occasional address.
Deputy Chancellor, members of Council, Faculty Deans, staff, distinguished guests, graduates, proud parents and supporters, ladies and gentlemen….
In short, students of life.
Congratulations on achieving this milestone. I know you feel relief and some justified pride, in making it this far.
But of course this is only the beginning.
Attending ANY university is a privilege which goes well beyond the degree you’ve earned today. With this university (UTS), at this time, you are particularly privileged.
Privilege is an often misunderstood term but I believe here it relates to having the space, freedom and time to learn, reflect, discover and grow yourself.
It is about a sense of possibility, daring and intellectual curiosity that you need to hold onto dearly as you move into your next CHALLENGE… and do learn to embrace that word and all that it means.
When I graduated (in the 20th century), we saw the world was changing but it seems rather slow compared to the speed, complexity and scale of now, where some rules are changing fast.
There is more competition, the world is more uncertain, more subject to change. It is also more exciting, more global, entrepreneurial and full of twists and turns… requiring you to consistently draw upon your capacity to learn and re-learn. Maybe even UN-LEARN some things.
Some of you will think you have it all planned out, others will have no idea what’s next and I am sure most of you are somewhere in between.
Yet I could not have foreseen where I would be today. I had a vague sense of ambition but no clear plan and while I was helped by a dash of serendipity, it took time to hone my skills.
I came to UTS in the late nineties to study post-graduate business (my first degree was a Bachelor of Arts). That decision marked for me a first defining pivot point when I deliberately moved my career from being about making television to the business of television.
I have been a committed business student ever since.
Working in TV production was fun but I knew I desired more control beyond what was going on behind or in front of the camera. I wanted to decide where, and on who, the money was spent to get the best returns. I have loved the challenge of pay TV’s evolution in Australia – not an insubstantial challenge as we really do love our free content here in Australia.
So here are seven ideas to help you on the way from my journey, peppered with some of my favourite sayings - maybe one or two might resonate for you too?
ONE: A career is a long journey full of zigs and zags and is not a sprint. That’s what makes it, and you, more interesting anyhow. As Apple CEO Tim Cook says “Let your joy be in your journey – not in some distant goal.”
While we can plan for our future, we can never plan for how we will feel about it when we get there, so keep the option open to happily change your mind.
I have swapped sides myself from production to business, in pay TV from channel – to platform – to channel all because my own needs changed.
TWO: Get comfortable with who you are and also who YOU ARE NOT. Traditional media can be a ‘blokey’ game and it took some time for me to work out how to be myself in business.
Early in my career, I probably spent way too much time focused on my perceived weaknesses rather than playing to my strengths (fortunately this self-debate wasn’t always obvious to others). Focusing on strengths leads to greater job satisfaction and productivity anyhow.
THREE: “Shift Happens” and it should… especially in times of unprecedented change. Don’t get so comfortable with yourself that you cannot recognise when to change. I had to learn to think of myself as a leader and deliberately shift from being the ‘good worker’ who could deliver business results to focusing my efforts on adding value, influencing, shaping and defining problems to solve.
FOUR: There is a big gap between having a vision and making things happen and you need to collect a good range of skills and people to round you out and help you deliver. Sometimes ideas can be easy but great execution can be hard without the shared knowledge and efforts of collaborative teams.
Value diversity of opinion, get truly comfortable with difference – teacher/student, up/down, male/female, business/customer, technical/creative etcetera – challenge yourself to view things from different perspectives and surround yourself with people who fill the gaps.
I REALLY value process people!
FIVE: Get practiced at giving, accepting and seeking solid feedback – it makes the world of difference to your capacity to learn and lead. They say “feedback is the breakfast of champions” and it is the best cure for self-doubt.
I agree wholeheartedly with Sheryl Sandberg (famed author of Lean In) when she says “…the upside of painful knowledge, is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.” I now appreciate that even uncomfortable feedback is a gift.
SIX: “Jump off the cliff and grow wings on the way down”. You need people and experiences in your life that push you forward and make you better! You must practice undertaking tasks that you are not quite ready to do. You will come to appreciate that the uncomfortable feeling you have when you are a LITTLE out of depth is the first step in gaining those extra useful ‘tools in your kitbag’ that you’ll need in the future.
SEVEN: Make time for the people around you, get involved with your community and give generously as it makes you richer. This can be your time, your money, or even your social media following. As individuals we can have power to make a difference in the world. Sometimes that can be as simple as actively checking in to make sure your immediate family are okay with lending you out to the world as much as you want for yourself.
I have always made time for a project or two on the side – my current interest is raising philanthropic funds for social justice documentaries via Documentary Australia Foundation. While my motivation is to ‘give-back’ the fact is, all my varied roles have been good for business too - giving me fresh perspectives and networks.
So I encourage you to leave today with a sense of purpose to make a difference, shape the curve and lead the way.
You have the skills and knowledge and quite frankly we will really need your help to make this world a decent and good society in the next decade or so.
Be brave, take risks, gain experience - including excitement, frustration and heartache. It is all part of building yourself a destiny.
And I wish you all the very best with yours.