LinkedIn’s Clifford Rosenberg Shares His Leadership Journey and Approach
As the driving force behind LinkedIn’s growth in our region, Clifford Rosenberg – Former Managing Director of LinkedIn Australia, New Zealand & South East Asia – has a wealth of tangible business experience to share. We’re excited to announce AIB’s partnership with LinkedIn, and welcome Clifford as an Industry Guest Lecturer. Clifford will contribute knowledge to two of our core MBA subjects – Leadership and Strategic Human Resource Management – enriching our MBA curriculum with practical, up to date insights.
The LinkedIn Story
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn has become an essential platform for career-minded individuals to showcase their professional personas and build their networks. Likewise, it’s an important tool for businesses and government to engage with their audiences, recruit top talent and manage their employer brand.
In today’s competitive business environment, professionals must build and maintain a personal brand that articulates who they are and where they’re going. One’s presence on LinkedIn plays a key part in this, where it is important to be authentic, build brand associations and publish content to showcase expertise.
Clifford has spoken at length about the importance of an up to date LinkedIn profile, recommending a professional headshot as a minimum. If a candidate really wants to stand out, he says, they should showcase their professional accolades and samples of work, such as a video of them delivering a keynote speech.
Clifford’s journey to LinkedIn leader
Clifford was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed a Bachelor of Business Science with Honours at the University of Cape Town, before undertaking a Masters of Science with Honours at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
In the late 1990s, he moved to Australia and took up a position as head of corporate strategy for Vodafone. From there, he founded iTouch Australia and New Zealand, a leading wireless application service provider that was subsequently acquired in 2007.
By 2003, Clifford was the Managing Director of Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand, while also investing in a number of media and tech initiatives. One of those was Sound Alliance, now the millennial-focused Junkee Media.
But it was that first Australian position that proved most influential in landing Clifford where he is now. In 2009, LinkedIn was looking to expand internationally. An erstwhile colleague of Clifford’s from the Vodafone days, the then CMO for LinkedIn based in Silicon Valley, recommended him to the executive team. Clifford flew over to Silicon Valley, discussed the company’s vision, and within a few weeks took over as the Managing Director of the Australia/New Zealand office. From 2011, that role was expanded to encompass Southeast Asia as well.
By all measures, he’s been successful in the role: there are now over 8 million LinkedIn users in Australia. About 80 per cent of ASX 100 companies now use the networking platform for recruitment, sales and marketing. From starting out as the regions first employee, Clifford now manages over 300 people.
Running a dynamic tech company, in which 70% of the staff are millennials, brings its own challenges. Clifford considers himself an introvert, and prefers to recharge by spending time alone. But he’s learned that “you need to be out there with the team, mingling. They don’t want to see a leader sitting in an office all day; they want to be able to talk and communicate with that leader and have easy access.”
The other challenge presented by the make up of his team is its diversity, with staff from all over the globe bringing different cultural understandings and personalities to the mix. He says, “You have got to be able to read the dynamics quickly.” While cultural diversity is a strength of the company, it also heightens the challenges of collaboration and communication that are ever-present leadership issues.
Clifford’s leadership approach is driven by a strong belief in authenticity, consistency and ethics. He changes his communication style depending on his audience, but believes that his behaviour is more innate, and tied to who he is as a person. “In business, real power comes from influence, and the ability to be consistent and generate trust among the people you are working with over time,” Clifford explained.
As well as inspiring others, Clifford’s been inspired by LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner. “Every great leader has got some sort of super human power,” Clifford says, citing Weiner’s incredible memory, intelligence, work ethic and willingness to look at his own behaviours as a leader.
Clifford gives a lot of credit to his own mentors, and is passionate about paying the favour forward in his own life. He donates his time to ChildFund’s MentorMe campaign, which raises money to build leadership and life skills for children, especially girls, in remote Myanmar. He also on the advisory board of the Australian Rhino Project.
Get to know AIB’s Industry Partners and our team of exceptional Industry Guest Lecturers here.