From Sydney to New York: A day in the life of Joanna Lambert, president and GM of consumer at Yahoo
- Joanna Lambert moved from Australia to the US with her family at the end of 2005, and has been living in New York ever since.
- When she's not working, she likes spending time with her husband, daughter and pet cat Leo – and sailing the British Virgin Islands at least once a year.
Joanna Lambert is the president and GM of consumer at Yahoo, where she’s been working for the last four years. She has an extensive background in financial services, having previously worked at American Express for almost 14 years, and more recently at PayPal for three years.
Joanna began her career as a communications consultant back home in Sydney, Australia, where she spent most of her life. A few years later, she pivoted to the financial services space by joining the American Express office in Sydney. This proved to be a life-changing decision for her, as this was ultimately what brought her to New York.
A couple of years into her role as a corporate affairs manager at Amex in Sydney, Joanna decided she wanted to take her career to the next level by challenging herself and taking on a higher level of responsibility. During a skip-level meeting with her manager’s manager at the time, Joanna expressed her desire to explore new opportunities at Amex – and her willingness to move anywhere in the world to pursue them. Not long after that meeting, she was invited to join the Amex headquarters in New York as the director of corporate affairs.
Joanna moved to New York City with her husband and one-year-old daughter between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, 2005. Initially, she encountered some unexpected cultural differences, beyond just the different use of language. “I’m generally a very transparent and forthright person. And when I first got here, I soon recognized that sometimes I was a bit too forthright, or more forthright than some of my colleagues,” she shared. Regardless, Joanna soon fell in love with New York, and has been living there with her family for over 16 years.
Joanna went on to gain a lot of experience in financial services over the next decade. In 2018, while at PayPal, she was approached for the role of general manager at Yahoo Finance, the largest financial media platform in the world. She had no prior experience in the media space, but her background in financial services and her experience leading teams in product development meant that she could potentially be a great fit for the position – so she decided to take the leap.
Today, Joanna leads product, strategy, operations, and growth for a variety of brands – including Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, TechCrunch, Engadget, and AOL – which have a combined global audience of around 900 million monthly active users. Joanna leads a number of editorial teams that produce first-party content, but they also aggregate news and data from many third-party publishers like Bloomberg, WSJ and CoinDesk. Beyond news and content, there are other products and features on offer as well, such as Yahoo Finance tools, which help users to manage their investment portfolio and track stocks.
“My role is looking after all these teams and products to make sure that we’re providing the best content and the best product experience, and that we continue to grow our audience and engagement,” Joanna explained. “We have a really engaged global audience, particularly retail investors, which has been an incredible area of growth for us in the last couple of years. That’s because during the pandemic, with the volatility in the markets, there was a whole lot of activity in that retail investment market.”
Here’s what a typical day in Joanna’s life looks like.
My day usually starts with my cat Leo bouncing on my head. Normally, it’s sometime between 6 am and 6:30 am, but it really depends on when he decides that he wants to get up and wants to be fed. This morning, he actually woke me up at 5 am.
Once I’m up, I typically do a quick scan of emails and some of our newsletters that come out first thing in the morning – particularly on the financial services side of things, like the Yahoo Finance newsletter.
The next thing I normally do is go for a walk. One of the things that’s been really great about working from home is that it actually gives me time to go outside and get some air. And I usually do that with a really good girlfriend of mine. She swings by, picks me up, and we go for a walk to clear our heads and try to get those 10,000 steps in.
The next part of my morning consists of a quick mental routine I’ve had for a number of years, where I sit down with a cup of coffee and try to spend ten minutes to myself, just thinking through my intentions for the day. I think about questions like, what am I grateful for? And what do I want to achieve? It’s a great way for me to get a little bit of headspace and think through what I want to get done in the day. But more importantly, it also frees me up mentally to think about the longer-term goals of our company and our teams. Where do we want to be in the future? Are we doing enough to plan for the next three months, six months, or year? That allows me to see beyond what’s immediately in front of us and actually think about those bigger swings that we can take as a team.
The first thing I do from a work perspective – and sometimes even from a personal perspective – is check in with my immediate team and hear about what’s happening, how everyone’s doing, and whether there are any tasks that need to be reprioritized or changed.
Whenever I’m working from home, I also have a lot of personal chats open, not just with the direct leadership team at Yahoo, but also with current and former colleagues that I’m close to. We share a lot of news, but occasionally also something we can share a good laugh over. It’s important to stay and feel connected when your colleagues are not physically around you.
My husband also works from home on most days, and so we do this sort of work-from-home dance, to try and work out who’s going to be in which part of the house. Typically around lunchtime, I’m sitting out near the kitchen. He comes out, and he always wants to order something. But I’m adamant that I don't want to order food for lunch – I want to try and keep it healthy with a salad or a soup or something that’s not too heavy. I usually end up having whatever I can find in the refrigerator – usually some leftovers from the previous night.
A large part of my day consists of Zoom meetings. It’s usually a mixture of one-on-ones and team meetings for things like product planning and roadmap planning initiatives.
Part of my planning process for each day is to try and make sure that I’m connecting with my direct reports and making sure they have everything they need. Because as a leader, you’re trying to unblock any blocks, or anything that might slow down progress.
From the leadership team perspective, our CEO and his direct reports meet at least once a week, just to make sure that we’re all thinking ahead and our priorities are aligned. One of the things we’ve been focused on lately is building an environment that’s conducive to the future of work. How do we take things that worked well during the pandemic and put them into a post-pandemic context? What are the opportunities we have and the tools we need to work effectively in a hybrid setting? These are some of the questions we try to tackle as a team.
Evenings and free time
Pre-pandemic, my evenings used to be very different. I’d usually go out and grab dinner or a cocktail a couple of times a week, whether for networking or just with friends. That obviously changed over the last couple of years.
I always try to sit down for dinner with my family whenever I can. Since we have teams around the world, I do sometimes have meetings in the evening as well. And we’ve got a pretty big presence on the West Coast, which means my workday doesn’t always end by dinner time.
Once the workday is over, I sit with my husband to watch TV and unwind. We finally caught up on ‘Billions’ and just recently watched the last episode.
When my husband and I manage to get some days off work, we love going sailing. Back in Australia, we used to sail on the Sydney Harbour. And even here, for the last 12 years or so, we’ve been going sailing almost every year. We usually travel to the British Virgin Islands with another family. Always love that experience.
We also equally love skiing. We haven’t done that for the last couple of years, but I'm hoping we can get back to it soon.