Head of Communications, Australia & New Zealand / Airbnb
Chloe Browne has had a meteoric career in the media and communications industry. Born and bred in Melbourne, Chloe cut her teeth in the newsroom of Channel 7 where she completed her high school work experience. Since then Chloe’s work has enabled her to travel the globe.
Chloe is now the Head of Communications at Airbnb, and looks after the comms strategy for Australia and New Zealand.
In this incredible interview, you will learn how Chloe navigated the media landscape as a young journalist, what it was like working at The Today Show, why she moved overseas and how she pivoted into communications. Hint Hint, it includes tenacity, talent, and a desire to shake things up.
If you’ve ever wondered how to land a job at Airbnb you’re in luck. Read on and learn how to turn your dream into reality, pursue multiple roles, and break into the communications industry.
Where did you grow up and how did your experience shape the person you are and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Melbourne. Before I was born my parents lived in London so I spent a lot of my childhood listening to their stories from when they both worked there. I think that really cemented an early desire to travel and live overseas.
When you were a young girl what did you want to be when you grew up?
In year four I tried my hand at debating and my teacher told me afterwards that I had a knack for public speaking and could be a newsreader. After that, I sort of developed a bit of an obsession with TV news and had my mindset on being a TV reporter.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I attended Caulfield Grammar School which was newly co-ed. Coming from a Girls School and having no brothers, it was quite daunting at first but I loved my experience there. I gravitated towards drama and athletics and was also lucky enough to forge a great group of friends who are still among my closest buddies today.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I had some amazing English teachers and learned a lot about voice delivery and presentation by studying theatre and performing in school plays. I tried to choose subjects that would be helpful for a career in Journalism, such as Australian History and Politics.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
A family friend happened to be a TV reporter at Channel Seven, so I managed to secure a place doing work experience in the Newsroom. I loved heading out on stories and chatting to the reporters and camera and production crews. The buzz and adrenalin that erupted when a big story broke or just before the bulletin aired was pretty electric.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I studied Professional Communications at Melbourne’s RMIT University and then crossed over into a straight Journalism degree. I majored in Broadcast Journalism.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
After studying Journalism at Uni I landed a cadetship working on a regional newspaper and moved to the country. In the space of 12 months, I covered everything from sheep shows and tractor conventions to car accidents and Country race meets. It was the best kind of experience and I learnt so much about the nuts and bolts of storytelling and writing news.
After a stint as a radio newsreader in Sydney, I landed a gig as an Assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Channel Nine News newsroom. I started off answering phones but gradually moved into a role as a News Producer for the Today Show (starting at 2 am!). A role soon came up for an early morning chase reporter – a gig that involved being the first to conduct interviews on big stories that broke from overnight. I relished the opportunity and loved the detective work involved in TV newsgathering. After a few months, I got the opportunity to file my own stories and then relocated back home to Melbourne to work as a reporter on the flagship 6pm Channel Nine News bulletin.
During that time I covered everything from the Queensland floods to Tornadoes in Texas, with the big highlight being a short stint in Nine’s LA bureau filling in as US Correspondent. I was also lucky enough to try my hand at presenting, working in a part-time role as the network’s weather presenter.
After eight years working at Channel Nine I decided to move to London. My sister was living there and I realised that if I didn’t take the opportunity to move overseas, then I’d end up regretting it. Leaving my family, friends and an amazing job in Melbourne to buy a one-way ticket to London seemed crazy at the time and was by far the hardest thing I’d ever done. In London I started off freelancing as a TV news Producer for networks including Sky News and Al Jazeera, before landing a gig at BBC World News, working in one of the biggest and busiest newsrooms in the world. After 12 months a job came up in the Public Affairs team at newspaper publishing company News Corp. The Director was an ex-journalist (and Boris Johnson’s former Press Secretary) so he took a chance on me because he could see how my journalism skills would translate well in a public relations role. That proved to be a real turning point in my career – I learned so much about strategic communications and the inner workings of big business. An opportunity then arose to join the Communications team at InterContinental Hotels Group, which I couldn’t say no to as I’m obsessed with travel. That was a wonderful role that allowed me to work in both Consumer and Corporate Communications looking after an amazing portfolio of hotels right across Europe. My job ranged from hosting press trips in Paris to briefing business journalists in Berlin!
Incredible, what a story. So, how did you get your job at Airbnb?
Good timing played a big part. I was working as the Director of Europe Communications for InterContinental Hotels Group when my husband and I decided to relocate back to Australia. I spotted an opening for a job as Head of Communications for Airbnb based in Sydney which sounded like the perfect position, as I could utilise my experience in travel PR but also fulfil a passion to work in the tech space. I applied and after a long interview process was lucky enough to land the gig.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
The sheer volume of work can be challenging, so ruthless prioritisation is super important.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
I wake up early (normally 5am) and try to sneak in a run.
I also make sure I read all the main news headlines and check any articles where Airbnb has been mentioned from overnight before my working day fully kicks into gear at 9am. Then it’s usually a mix of meetings – they might involve me briefing the internal team about an upcoming communications campaign or developing press office story ideas for the month ahead with my team.
Lunch is often where I’ll meet with a key contact, like a Travel Editor, and the afternoon might involve responding to journalists with information for upcoming stories, briefing one of our senior leaders ahead of a media interview, organising a press trip or drafting media releases and social content for a launch or big announcement. There’s also normally a bunch of Zoom meetings with our San Francisco and Asia-based teams, which keeps things super interesting and dynamic.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
My dad is my greatest inspiration. While he’s worked hard all his life, he’s taught me so much about the importance of having hobbies and adapting a healthy work/ life balance.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
A career in communications requires great writing skills, a strong news sense and the ability to connect well with people. The travel tech space is also extremely fast paced and demands loads of creativity – you have to constantly find new and interesting ways to talk about the brand you represent. In terms of getting a foot in the door, tenacity and passion are key. It’s really about making yourself indispensable and saying ‘yes’ to everything.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: Airbnb, New York Times, Vanity Fair and Suitcase Magazine.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @airbnb, @celebspellcheck for a laugh and @jumbledonline for incredible art and interiors inspiration that always brightens my feed!
- Favourite Podcast: The Pivot Podcast, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and Night Light, which is an Australian podcast with a beautiful collection of stories designed to help you unwind before nodding off to sleep.
- Favourite Netflix/Stan/ Series: The Crown
- Favourite all time book/s: Cloud Street, by Tim Winton
- Favourite App that you use every day: World Time Buddy, Calm, Nike Run App.