Twitch, Privahini Bradoo, Exploratorium 

Mixed emotions today from the students. They don’t want the programme to finish but they are excited about being home with their families.

We had an hour and a half bus ride into the city, so with bags packed — some to bursting — we settled in. It was an interesting ride for those that could stay awake, but for some, the week’s busyness was catching up and keeping eyes open was not an option.

We arrived at Twitch, an international gaming company to have a question and answer session with Sarah Clemens, COO, a New Zealander born in Napier, who went to university in Christchurch and had a dad from Petone. A local working internationally.

Twitch is a global gaming company with 1000 people on the campus we visited, and several hundred others scattered over 26 countries. Twitch is live TV that is participative, where people form communities and have ‘live and authentic’ conversations. I’m not entirely sure what was meant by that, but I’m not a gamer. If you are interested to find out more about Twitch have a look at www.twitch.tvit’s impressive.

Our visit began with a tour of their new purpose-built office space. It was joined next to a building that was over 100 years old so there was a great mix of old and new. The office space, like so many in Silicon Valley was spacious, had cafeteria’s that employed chefs and offered three meals a day, café’s that converted to cocktail bars at night, smaller spaces where there was a constant supply of snacks, juices, fizzy drinks and water, and of course offices, break out spaces, meeting rooms and best of all (if it’s your thing), gaming rooms! Silicon Valley is so competitive that these big companies are having to keep up with each other in the facilities they offer the staff.

Like so many of the women we met, Clemens was down to earth, friendly and engaging. She was open to the students asking any questions they wanted. Here are some of the messages she shared with us.

Clemens was asked what do you need to be a leader? She said, believe in being one, just do it, back yourself, trip up - get up - dust yourself off and carry on. Have a belief that you can learn what you need to and have a compassion for those you lead.

The students were also interested in how she got the job and what the process was like. She emphasised to the students the importance of aligning themselves with the vision and strategy of the company, the culture and the people they will be working with. “You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Decide what you care about and ask the questions.” The key takeaway here is if the pay is great, the office space amazing, the job sounds interesting it won’t be sustainable if your values don’t align.  She also shared some other insights that reflect a common theme from this trip.

The advice I would give my younger self is give yourself a break! You beat yourself up about everything, stress about things that don’t matter and worry about what you are going to do for the rest of your life — don’t! Just enjoy it! Clemens also said get rid of Facebook and Instagram, she called them a portal for misery. Delete anyone from your Facebook that you wouldn’t have to your house for dinner! I’m not sure how that message went down with the students, but I believe it does get them thinking and challenging themselves over some of their choices.

And like all the other people we have encountered, she told the students to find something they love and explore it!

Following our visit to Twitch we walked to the PG & E building (Pacific, Gas and Electric Company) where we were meeting up with Privahini Bradoo, a Young global Leader at the World Economic Forum and Co-Founder of Blue Oak Resources.

Once again this was a question and answer opportunity for the students. Bradoo has a PHD in Neuroscience from Auckland University and an MBA from Harvard. She calls herself a global citizen. And like everyone else we had spoken to, she was warm, welcoming and encouraging. Her passion is in sustainable and clean business practises and the future of work.

Bradoo is an entrepreneur. She said it suits her because she can break the rules and as a female entrepreneur, she can break her own glass ceiling. She pointed out to the students that everything you do is painful in some way.  You have to ask yourself, what is the pain you are willing to live with?

“As an entrepreneur, I get to define my job, my pace of work, and imagine the world how I want it to be” she said. “I love being an entrepreneur because I get to do a lot of things, marketing, numbers and design. I define my own mandate and who I work with.”

On the flip side, she pointed out to the students, it can be hard because there is lots of uncertainty so she has lessened the responsibility in her personal life because of the risk in her business life. It can also be hard to stay motivated because there is no validation if you are doing the things the right way.

And once again we hear some common themes. Bradoo says to the girls, “understand what you value to the best of your knowledge. You can value the big things like family, improving yourself, making money, creating new things, or you can value the smaller things. The risk is valuing what others have told you, you should value. There is no judgement in what your values are, the only thing that will hurt you is doing things that are opposed to your values!

She also suggested to the students that they do something completely out of their comfort zone. With the future of work changing, skills will change but capabilities won’t. They will need to be prepared to re-skill while focussing on their capabilities. They need to ask themselves “what is the highest level I am good at?” Biological age and chronological age are very different, but youth is in your mind. After all, chronological age is just how many times you have circled the sun.

Her closing comments, I thought were extremely thought provoking. “You want to make other people proud — but if you took out the motivation to do it for you, would you be motivated by yourself?”

After these amazing conversations, we walked to the Exploratorium for a fun couple of hours, playing with all the interactive displays before we headed to the airport for the long trip home.

IYM Silicon Valley has been an extraordinary programme and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and supporters for making this programme happen and giving these students an opportunity to be exposed to some incredible, successful people and to have their minds opened to the exciting opportunities that await them. We couldn’t have done it without you!


Aviat Networks

Royal Society

Brian Smellie


Carterton Rotary

Rathkeale School


Activate Trust

GK Shaw Ltd

Silverstream Retreat

Port Nicholson Rotary

Boost Productive People

Prue Lamason

CUS Classic Uniforms and Sportwear

Packaging Products Ltd


Rotary Hutt City Foundation

Hutt City Council