By Patrick Avenell
SYDNEY, NSW: This week, in a special edition of Current.com.au’s Most Powerful Women in CE series, we take an in-depth look at the woman who shapes the local message for the world’s most iconic CE brand.
Jenny Geddes is the head of corporate communications for Sony Australia. More than just an internal PR position, this role is equivalent to a politician’s chief of staff, as Geddes explained.
“My working week starts with a senior management team meeting where we review the status of our sales and report on the major activities taking place in the week ahead.
“I then work with divisional managers on internal communication requirements, respond to media requests about Sony, speech write, meet with our Sony Foundation team on our corporate philanthropy direction, attend meetings with the other Sony companies and get involved in areas of policy development or Government involvement, such as e-waste management or the introduction of digital TV.”
Geddes joined Sony from its external PR company. Before this, she completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Commerce. To gain valuable spin doctoring experience, as it’s called in the politico scene, Geddes worked for a government lobbyist for four years. She then moved into PR fulltime, representing companies including Intel and Microsoft.
From here, Sony beckoned.
“In 1998, I was privileged to be offered the corporate communications manager role at Sony Australia. In my first week with the Company, I attended a meeting with the then managing director to discuss whether or not Sony needed a local website – unthinkable now!”
When asked if she saw the CE industry as a ‘man’s world’, Geddes was refreshingly frank.
“Yes, undeniably the CE retail industry is a man’s world. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad place to work – it just means there is still an incredible amount of work that needs to be done to attract more women to this industry.”
Geddes said that if consumer electronics maintains an imbalance on gender, companies will be restricting themselves to only half the best available talent. Companies, especially the larger corporations that speak to the entire population, need to be representative of the population. Whether your business sells flat panel TVs, as Sony does, or any other product or service, you need to speak to all your customers. Having more equal gender employment levels can make this process more natural.
“Our industry needs to attract more women so we’re getting a true perspective of society and a true perspective of how to communicate, market and to sell technology to all Australians”
Geddes does not exclude Sony from this analysis.
“Looking inward, Sony Australia does have some way to go to re-address the gender imbalance and we are facing this issue head on. Last year we employed the same amount of women as men; and we have noticeably increased the number of female senior managers in our Company.”
Earlier this year, subsequent to an incident in Sony’s French office, Geddes was criticised in a rival news service for her work performance. Inherent in this criticism was a latent misogyny, with Geddes accused of getting “her knickers in a twist”. We asked Geddes how this criticism made her feel.
“I don’t think anyone likes criticism, particularly when it’s baseless and untrue. However, I figure that it’s a bit like dealing with the playground bully; underneath their actions is often an unhappy soul!
“I focus on what I can change and where I can make a difference; and try very hard to ignore what I can’t.”