FROM Canberra to Sydney to New York and back again, Danielle Harmer has been part of some huge projects around digital products for iconic news outlets such as “The New York Times” and “The Sydney Morning Herald”.
Bringing back a wealth of experience, Danielle returned to her hometown, Canberra, in 2016, and in more recent days has been appointed general manager of leading online real estate site Allhomes.
Danielle, 36, of Crace, started in the new role this month after returning from maternity leave.
The mum-of-three says she was excited about the role because she knew she’d be “walking into a job with a great team”.
But Danielle hasn’t always known what she’s been walking into; such as the time in her mid 20s when she moved to New York.
After finishing her degree at the University of Canberra she worked in Sydney at IBM for about five years before developing a thirst to travel.
She’d been to New York on a family holiday in the past and loved it so it was an easy choice.
“It was tricky for me to go because it was in the global financial crisis but everyone said just go over and try your luck,” she says.
Turns out Danielle was in luck because not long after moving, a recruiter sent her to interview for a business analyst job at a publishing company, which turned out to be “The New York Times”.
“They were using the same technology I was using at IBM so I was really, really lucky,” she says.
“They took me up to the 21st floor where I had a really good four-hour chat with people like the head of marketing and after I landed the role, I couldn’t believe it.
“I don’t think they’d met an Australian before. A lot of them were die-hard New Yorkers so a lot of the interview we talked about Australia.”
Within a few months in the role, “The New York Times” decided to put up a paywall on its internet site and Danielle became product manager of the website.
“It was a huge cultural change there. We basically had to merge the print and digital sides of the business,” she says.
“It was an experience and a half when it comes to organisational change. A lot of people left. You kind of had to grasp it or run with it or step back.
“I remember sitting in meetings where people would be yelling and crying.
“One of my biggest memories there was when someone had hit the paywall for the first time and everyone cheered,” she says.
“When I left we had about 600,000 digital subscribers and now it’s well over a million.”
It was New York, at a gym, where Danielle met her husband, too. He was an American playing rugby union there and she challenged him to play in Australia.
They moved to Coogee where he played for Randwick and Danielle got a job working with Fairfax.
“I started with ‘The Financial Review’ as their head of product, then ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ and ‘The Australian’ wanted to launch a paywall so I took my ‘New York Times’ experience to that project,” she says.
When moving back to Canberra in 2016 and landing a job at Allhomes, Danielle says she first worked on getting the technology up to speed.
“I felt like the technology was a little bit behind. We had this amazing website, but it wasn’t mobile focused,” she says.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of years really pushing a mobile strategy.
“People are on the road more looking for properties and they want to be able to do it everywhere.
“It’s important for us to stay ahead and continue to be the place where people can find everything they need throughout their property journey.
“It’s only going to get more interactive and more interesting. There will be more tech support for the whole length of the journey.
“Right now there is so much investment and awareness in the property space. It’s a really fun and fascinating market.”