Jana Rangooni – Rebuilding life’s foundations

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What started as a post-uni holiday job at a provincial radio station in the late 80s turned into a 30-year career in commercial radio for Jana Rangooni, whose extensive leadership experience has made her a highly regarded figure in the broadcast industry. In August Jana won the Emerging Talent in Governance Award by the Institute of Directors, Bay of Plenty. It sounds like the perfect example of successful career development, but it didn’t mean Jana could sidestep a mid-life crisis in her late 40s. She talks to focus about chasing goals, building foundations and turning 50.

In 2016 Jana Rangooni finally made the big break, moving out of the day-to-day management of commercial radio and into a part-time role as CEO of the Radio Broadcasters Association (RBA) – the industry body. Last year she also moved out of Auckland and now has a home near the beach in Papamoa. While she still spends Monday to Wednesday in Auckland for the RBA, she’s usually able to work the rest of the week from home.

With a key leadership role and a big commute, life already sounds busy, but the change in direction has enabled Jana to spend more time on her growing passion – governance.

“I had always been interested in business and thought organisations were primarily a product of the CEO, but then realised that boards have a huge influence because they set the tone and strategy of an organisation and will be the difference in whether the organisation is successful or not.

“I realised I wanted to be a director, having an impact where it matters most. Seeing strategies achieved and organisations achieving their goals is what I find most rewarding.”

MOVING UP, FALLING DOWN

Before leaving her full-time role at Mediaworks and still deciding which path to take, Jana started on her governance journey by becoming a board member for the not-for-profit New Zealand Music Foundation.

She earned her first major directorship role in 2015, bringing her extensive commercial, marketing and media experience to the board of Paralympics NZ. Ultimately, her solid background in managing big organisations with big budgets led to her inclusion on finance and risk committees – something she never thought she would be offering, but, she says, stepping up your game is essential, and to be effective in governance you have to keep learning and growing and increasing your sphere of understanding.

Since then she has also become a board member for the Advertising Standards Authority, and is a member of Global Women. Winning the Emerging Talent award gives her the opportunity to develop her directorship skills by joining a local Bay of Plenty board for a year – a bit like an internship, as she calls it.

Just another directorship or two to fit into her already busy week! But Jana – the self-acclaimed ‘queen of planning’ – has already planned her hours well into next year; her Google Calendar a carefully constructed schedule of colour-coded blocks of time. Better time management was part of her late-40’s change in direction. To live the life she really wanted and reach the goals that actually mattered, she needed to become more disciplined, so as well as spreading her wings in the governance sphere, she focused on getting more sleep, more exercise and giving up coffee. She started building her life back up from the foundations.

Like so many other women, however, the looming 50th birthday prompted a stock take of what she had achieved in her life, and again, like many of us, she didn’t go easy on herself. The decision to leave commercial radio, to leave Auckland, her son, her friends and support networks, set Jana up for a massive crash.

“I didn’t have a problem being 50 but it was a real benchmark, and even though I had already started making a lot of changes, it was about turning 50 and feeling I hadn’t achieved anything.

“I gave myself a mental scorecard of where I was in my life and everything seemed to be ‘F’ – relationship, mental health, physical health, finances, friendships. It was a bunch of little things happening all at once and I completely fell apart.”

ATTITUDE SHIFT

From the changes Jana had already put in place, she was getting fitter and healthier, but it was her attitude that hadn’t shifted. Once she finally realised that, she was back on track. “I’ve got friends who never made 50 so I told myself to get off my arse and start living; laugh at the stuff that goes wrong, fix what you need to and be grateful for what you have. Everything that I felt was wrong with my life was largely dealt with by me changing the way I looked at it.

“It starts by understanding your foundations, your values and what really matters to you and making sure everything you do lines up with that. I think people need to be more honest with themselves and responsible for their own wellbeing, because your own actions and attitude will often be what needs addressing most.”

Physical and mental health, family and friends, and personal growth are what Jana values highly. So to align with that she puts a priority on sleep and exercise, spends lots of time laughing with and feeding family and friends, challenges herself at work and gives back in her voluntary work. She also assessed values against her governance work so she could pursue the opportunities that really mattered to her. “It makes life so much easier,” she says.

“The other thing that helps a lot is doing ten minutes meditation every day which reminds me to look at all the positives. Most of the things that cause stress and anxiety are thoughts and feelings, not facts, so mindfulness helps to keep things in perspective.”

As she continues to spur herself on to reach her goals, the solid wall of cookbooks in her living room is like a physical representation of the foundations of wellbeing she has set in place. Creating beautiful food for friends and family in her relaxed and welcoming home by the sea is one of her greatest joys, and she is now making enough time in her week to focus on those good things in life.