Google Australia MD Jason Pellegrino outlines vision for the future

“If you can harness the power of diversity, you get better outcomes”

Jason Pellegrino‘s journey to becoming one of the most powerful people in the media and technology industry in Australia and New Zealand is an inspiring one.

During a recent visit to the Google office in Sydney, the managing director for the region seemed surprised by this description.

“I am not even the most powerful person in my household,” Pellegrino told Mediaweek, looking amused. “I have four kids and a wife, who would absolutely disagree with that at any point in time.”

Pellegrino’s father migrated to Australia from Italy as a 15-year-old. He introduced Pellegrino to the world of technology when he brought home an IBM desktop. Pellegrino’s father worked in the IT industry in its very early days.

“I was on the verge of being a teenager and all my friends had started to get the Commodore 64 and my father turned up with a IBM desktop. It was incredibly expensive for the time, and particularly for what we could afford. It didn’t play any games,” Pellegrino said as he took a trip down memory lane.

What Pellegrino’s first computer did have though was Lotus 1-2-3, a discontinued spreadsheet program that was widely popular in the 1980s. While this wouldn’t exactly be the idea of fun for a child about to enter his teenage years, it was the problem-solving aspect of Lotus 1-2-3 that appealed to Pellegrino.

Inside Google Australia’s Sydney office

“It didn’t have Solitaire, Minesweeper or anything, all the things that we take for granted – first world problems,” he said. “He [Pellegrino’s father] encouraged me to start playing with the programming and learn some basic things like that. It injected a love of IT and particularly problem solving.

“What really excites me is that whole concept of logic and problem solving.”

As to Pellegrino’s vision for the local market in the global scheme of things, he said: “[The aim] is to establish Australia as a leading nation in the next generation of global growth that is going to be more about harnessing the use of digital tools, as well as the breaking down of geographic boundaries.”

One of the strongest assets that Australia has to offer in the global realm is diversity, Pellegrino said.

“The recent census proves that we have one of the most multicultural communities on earth. My entire experience at building and managing teams at Google shows that if you can harness the power of diversity, you get better outcomes. But having said that, Australian businesses don’t have a great track record on harnessing that diversity to be successful outside of Australia…On average and overall, we tend to be very insular in our focus in terms of being successful in the Australian market. At a large company level, the invested community is not that supportive of large organisations spreading and operating in different markets.

“We need to do a lot more in establishing our mindset to be global from day one, rather than just focusing internally.”

This is an excerpt of the full article, which appears in the latest issue of Mediaweek magazine. 

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