Times of failure produce biggest learning for local start-ups

Stephanie Hannon

She was the first female technology officer of a U.S. presidential campaign and spearheaded product developments at Google, Facebook and Eventbrite. But it was a personal health crisis that inspired Stephanie Hannon’s mission to use technology for social good.

Now the recently appointed chief product officer of Strava, the tracker app used by tens of millions of athletes to upload and share their activities, will be in Australia as part of the City of Sydney’s visiting entrepreneur program.

The Silicon Valley executive will share her personal journey, professional insights and ideas for using technology to tackle global problems at a series of workshops, seminars and talks from 4 June to 8 June 2018.

The events are part of the City’s program to bring international entrepreneurs to Sydney to share their expertise with the growing local tech start-up community.

“I want young engineers, designers and product managers to know their talents are needed in government, non-profits, education, environment and advocacy organisations,” Ms Hannon said.

“From bringing Google Maps to Africa and the Middle East and creating a global open data standard to building technology for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the best periods in my career have been when my work was for public good.”

She says it was a “quest to lose weight for major surgery” in 2014 that dramatically altered her career.

“While hiking, losing weight and doing triathlons felt good, I also began to sleep longer, was more emotionally resilient and happier,” Ms Hannon recalled.

“I want to help people live active, healthy and long lives.”

The one-time software engineer who led the Sydney-based venture to build the defunct Google Wave will share her failures as well as global successes.

“Times of failure are often the times of highest learning and personal development,” Ms Hannon said.

“Learning to talk about failures transparently and not defensively has helped me extensively in my career. I’ve become a better product manager through trying to build risky innovative ideas, even if they didn’t work.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the visiting entrepreneur program, created in partnership with the NSW Government, was providing invaluable advice and guidance for Sydney’s startups.

“We established this program to give local startup founders access to people who have successfully launched global businesses,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Stephanie Hannon has boldly taken on one of our biggest challenges and successfully navigated the many obstacles along the way.

“We need that kind of big, visionary and practical thinking to solve the biggest challenges of our time, and I hope her example inspires many ambitious new projects here in Sydney.”

Calendar of visiting entrepreneur program events

Event: Technology for Social Good with Stephanie Hannon
Date: Monday 4 June 2018, 6pm–8pm
Description: This discussion delves into technology’s potential to tackle global social problems and shape an inclusive future. It will also uncover the people and powers pushing this innovation.
Location: Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, The Rocks
Tickets: Free

Event: Workshop: Introduction to Product Management
Date: Tuesday 5 June 2018, 9am–11am
Description: This workshop is for anyone who wants an introduction to best practice for product management with a focus on Stephanie Hannon’s broad expertise in building products, online communities and local activation.
Location: University of Sydney, Business School, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
Tickets: $25

Event: Resilience – What I learnt from failure with Stephanie Hannon
Date: Wednesday 6 June 2018, 6pm–8pm
Description: At this fireside chat, Stephanie Hannon will share her learnings from Google Wave (before it crashed), the Strava heatmap crisis in Afghanistan and one of the most highly publicised losses of 2016 – the Hillary for America presidential campaign.
Location: Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, Building J, 651-731 Harris Street, Ultimo
Tickets: Free

Event: Fitness and Tracking Meetup with Stephanie Hannon
Date: Thursday 7 June 2018, 6pm–8pm
Description: A chance for fitness, tracking and community platform startups and professionals to connect with Stephanie Hannon, Chief Product Officer of Strava – home to the largest online community of athletes, with millions of runners, cyclists and triathletes united by the camaraderie of sport.
Location: Haymarket HQ, 2/63 Dixon St, Haymarket
Tickets: Free

Event: Workshop: Advanced Product Management
Date: Friday 8 June 2018, 9am–11am
Description: In this advanced workshop Stephanie Hannon will work through real-life examples with a focus on practical problem solving. This is a chance to discuss your current product development challenges in an intimate setting.
Location: Sydney Startup Hub, 11–31 York Street, Sydney
Tickets: $25

Source: City of Sydney

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