Startup Advice

Eventbrite’s Laura Huddle: The ‘growth at all costs’ mentality is dangerous and we can do better

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Eventbrite Laura Huddle

Laura Huddle. Source: Women's Agenda

Laura Huddle wants to see more emphasis on ethics in technology, along with more women working in the sector.

She believes more tech companies should be asking ‘should I do this’ rather than ‘can I do this’, especially given huge advances in artificial intelligence set to change how we live and work.

And having come up against plenty of hurdles as a woman in tech, she’s happy to now be working “for one of the rare technology companies that is driving awareness and progression on this” at Eventbrite, which is headed up by a female chief executive and boasts excellent gender diversity stats.

Who and what do you lead?

I lead a talented business development team for Eventbrite.

What are you working on right now that’s got you really excited?

I feel quite fortunate to engage with Australia’s best event creators and entrepreneurs about their goals and real business challenges, and develop solutions to help them achieve and exceed their targets. Event creators are naturally passionate about their events and that kind of enthusiasm is contagious.

What one issue is making you really angry right now?

I think technology ethics are extraordinarily important and wildly under-appreciated. One of the great things about being in the technology industry is the core mission of driving innovation. However, with advances in technology comes responsibility for those creations.

For a world that is heading full speed toward huge advances in artificial intelligence, we need more tech companies asking the question “should I do this” rather than “can I do this?” The “growth at all costs” mentality is dangerous and we are already starting to see the damage it can cause.

Best piece of career advice you ever received?

Be open minded. I’ve been fortunate to capitalise on new roles that have come up by taking a broader view of career advancement: it’s not just a vertical career ladder. I’ve learned to look for bigger ways to impact the business, rather than focusing on specific titles.

What would you go back and tell yourself ten years ago?

Failure is survivable. Two, move to Australia sooner. Three, make sure to go to that party where I met my husband.

Biggest hurdle you’ve faced (or are still facing) in your career? And how did/are you push through/work around it?

It feels slightly cliche to simply say being a woman in tech is the biggest hurdle, but having spent my entire career working in technology, it is absolutely “a thing”. I’ve been passed over for promotions, ignored in meetings, and been “mansplained” technology far more times than I can count in my career.

I now work for one of the rare technology companies that is driving awareness and progression on this and other important issues. We’re led by a female chief executive, tout strong gender diversity statistics, and have a representative percentage of women in leadership; our environment is much more positive than most. However, more broadly in the tech industry, we are sadly a long way before it is no longer an exception to the rule.

How have mentors or sponsors (or both) aided your career?

I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have great mentors that have “been there, done that” in the tech world that have been very influential in my career development. Sage advice has led me to join a startup, pushed me to challenge myself, and take the leap to move abroad. Mentorship is something that is extremely important to me, and I try to “pay it forward” at every opportunity.

What’s your favourite piece of tech?

I’m always online at work, so I try to be “less digital, more analogue” at home whenever possible. These days, I’m loving all my gear for making a proper coffee. My new milk jug (for frothing milk and latte art) might be my favourite piece of low-fi tech. There’s just something really satisfying to crafting something tangible to start the day.

What daily publications do you read or follow?

News and info sites, such as Business Insider and HuffPost; tech blogs like Techcrunch, Recode, The Verge; and news podcasts for the walk to work.

What apps or tools do you use to help manage your day?

My Google Calendar runs my life. Things move at a million miles an hour sometimes, so liberal use of reminders and adherence to my schedule help me get through the day organised and on time!

The Amazon Alexa is great for quick reminders.

Todoist is a helpful task manager that runs everywhere I need it and works great for sharing both work and household task lists.

What book do you most recommend to other women when it comes to their career?

Mindset by Carol Dweck.

And what are you reading/watching/listening to right now (for work or pleasure)?

I’m reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’ve always been a gamer and love all the classic video game references. I have to finish soon so I can see the movie!

This is an edited version of an article that was first published by Women’s Agenda.

NOW READ: How Ikea Australia’s national talent manager D’neale Prosser puts authentic leadership into practice

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