Lewis Mitchell is the head of content for the Asia-Pacific region at Twitch, the live-streaming platform that draws more than 30 million visitors every day, according to the company.
Based in Sydney, Australia, he oversees a team of three people.
Mitchell — who’s in his mid-30s and moved to Australia from England when he was 15 — took a somewhat roundabout journey to working at Twitch. He originally wanted to be an animator but decided to go into coding instead, spending a few years as a developer before changing gears and going into radio broadcasting.
As a gamer himself, Mitchell had been aware of Twitch, which was launched in 2011. But it was when he discovered Twitch Plays Pokémon — a social experiment on the live-streaming platform where more than a million players controlled a single character — that he knew he had to try and get a job there.
“It was the first time I’d seen a digital platform that was content-based around video games, and I’m just like, I have to work here,” Mitchell said.
He joined Twitch in May 2016 and started his current role as head of content while Sydney was in lockdown this spring.
Mitchell works from his home in the Wollongong area, about an hour south of Sydney. Here’s a look at his daily routine.
8 a.m. to 9 a.m: Mitchell starts his day drinking coffee on his balcony while he scrolls through Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and news apps to catch up on current affairs.
Some “noisy but awesome” Kookaburras — a type of kingfisher bird native to Australia and New Guinea — often sit in the Jacaranda tree nearby, he said.
Mitchell said he’s appreciated being able to get more sleep while working from home in the pandemic.
“If left to my own devices, I would absolutely be waking up at 11 o’clock and going to bed at like 1:00 in the morning,” he said. “But having that little bit of extra time has been really helpful.”
9 a.m. to 11 a.m: His work day kicks off with meetings with Twitch employees in the US.
“I’ll grab insights of high-level decisions during these meetings, then take them back to the APAC teams,” he said.
During the pandemic, Twitch has seen record numbers. In June 2020, the number of people streaming on Twitch in the Asia-Pacific region was double the year prior, according to the company. Last year, the total minutes viewed on Twitch grew to 1 trillion minutes.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m: Mitchell has a couple of hours of team meetings with the Asia-Pacific group and one-on-ones with country leads.
Twitch has 1,800 corporate employees around the world, according to a spokesperson for the company.
2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m: In the afternoon, he takes a break to take his Goldendoodle for a walk. Her name is Old Bean, but he and his wife just call her Beanie.
“She loves a Frisbee, but hasn’t mastered the art of dropping it yet, so we take two Frisbee’s for the bribery,” Mitchell said.
2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m: When they get back, Mitchell makes a sandwich for lunch – “usually in the presence of a hopeful dog looking for cheese,” he said.
3 p.m. to 5 p.m: He has more meetings in the afternoon, this time with the heads of departments in Asia Pacific to talk about how to improve the region for Twitch creators.
During these meetings, Mitchell stands and does some stretches.
Working from home in the pandemic, Mitchell said he’s learned the importance of investing in a good chair: He used to use gaming chairs but recently splurged on a Herman Miller office chair.
“I will say so far, it’s felt amazing,” he said. “My back is not hurting anywhere near as much.”
5 p.m. to 7 p.m: Mitchell spends the last couple hours of his day catching up with streamers and going through emails.
“I find it important to make sure I’m up-to-date with the type of content and tools people are utilizing the most to engage,” he said.
7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m: Mitchell fits in a workout, either a jog outside or in the small home gym he put together during the pandemic.
7:30 p.m: For dinner, he makes some burritos.
After dinner, Mitchell spends time with his wife and they watch TV together. “Highly recommend ‘The Hour,'” he said.
From about 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m, he finishes going through some emails and does any reading he needs to do for the rest of the week.
11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m: Mitchell calls this his “old man time,” when he avoids looking at screens for the last hour before bed.
“I’ll get into my slippers and dressing gown, and sit in my old man chair,” he said.
He recently finished the works of fantasy writer Robin Hobb and has also been reading about stoic philosophy.
During her stint in Tokyo, Kennedy worked on economic and trade affairs, among other issues.
Before joining the Obama administration, Kennedy, an author and attorney, worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and served as director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education.
She has also sat on the boards of numerous nonprofits, and serves as the honorary president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Biden’s relationship with the Kennedy family runs deep.
The president served in the Senate with Caroline’s uncle, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, throughout his entire 36-year tenure in the upper chamber.
Biden has also nominated Sen. Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Kennedy, to become the next ambassador to Austria.
He has spoke of the pivotal roles that John F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy played in his life, reflecting on their Irish Catholic upbringing and their legacy of public service.
During a dedication for Sen. Kennedy in 2015, Biden said that without the senator’s support, he would have walked away from his political career after losing his wife and daughter in a 1972 car accident shortly after his election to the Senate. The accident also resulted in severe injuries to his two sons, Beau and Hunter.
“It’s close to certain I would have never been sworn in as a United States senator if not for your father, your father’s encouragement,” Biden told the Kennedy children at the time. “I didn’t show up the day I was to be sworn in. It was your father, your father, who along with [Democratic Sen.] Mike Mansfield [of Montana], sent the secretary of the Senate to a hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, to swear me in with my boys.”
California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner flew to Australia last week as COVID-19 lockdown measures have left citizens of the country stranded overseas and unable to return home.
As part of measures to control the pandemic, Australia instituted a limit on the number of incoming flight passengers it receives each week. The cap was slashed in half on July 14 as the Delta variant is contributing to a new surge in cases in the country. Now, about 3,000 passengers are allowed to enter the country each week.
The decreased cap, set to be in place at least until August 31, was bad news for the more than 30,000 citizens who have registered with the government as stuck abroad and wanting to come home. Those who are able to return are required to quarantine for 14 days in designated locations.
Most foreigners have not been allowed in at all. And yet Jenner said Friday she was “honoring a work commitment” in traveling to Australia, where she is reportedly filming the TV show “Big Brother.” Despite leaving California two months before a recall election, the Republican said she’s still vying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Some figures in Australian media have blasted the news of her arrival.
“This is ridiculous,” Sky News host Paul Murray said Sunday. “There are literally flights that are returning with zero people on them because of travel caps, but she can fly into the country.”
Katie Hopkins, a British far-right commentator, was also allowed into Australia to appear on “Big Brother.” She sparked outrage after posting an Instagram live of herself on Saturday from a hotel room in Sydney where she was quarantining.
In the video, which has since been removed, Hopkins criticized Australia’s COVID-19 rules and bragged about flouting them, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. She called the lockdown a “hoax” and said she was waiting for workers to deliver food to her room so she could “spring it open and frighten the s— out of them and do it naked with no face mask.”
Following backlash, Hopkins was axed from the show, prompting her visa to be canceled overnight. She will now be deported.
“I thought it was just shameful, the fact that she was out there boasting about breaching quarantine was just appalling,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews told ABC. “It was a slap in the face for all those Australians who are currently in lockdown and it’s just unacceptable behavior.”
Despite the flight caps, celebrities have been allowed to enter Australia throughout the pandemic, as film and TV production continued due to the country’s relatively low rates of COVID-19. Others who have been allowed in the country since the border closed include Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, and Rita Ora, among others, as listed by ABC.
On Sunday night, the Australian government ran a graphic health advertisement encouraging residents to get vaccinated. It has since sparked backlash for depicting a patient who appears to be too young to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia.
Following a brief warning that the video will depict “a representation of a severe COVID-19 illness,” the 30-second advertisement showed a young woman wearing an oxygen mask and gasping for air.
“COVID-19 can affect anyone. Stay home. Get tested. Book your vaccination,” the advertisement read.
The health advertisement was criticized for appearing to portray a subject who may be too young to receive the vaccine in Australia. People over the age of 40 are currently eligible for the vaccine in Australia, while those ages 16 to 39 “may be eligible for vaccination,” per the Australian Government Department of Health.
“Completely offensive to run an ad like this when Australians in this age group are still waiting for their bloody vaccinations,” journalist Hugh Riminton tweeted.
“Scaring young people that can’t get vaccines is not helpful,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another user commented that the ad was “effective but terrifying given younger Australians like myself are still not eligible to be vaccinated.”
Health consultant Bill Bowtell told The Sydney Morning Herald that the ad “does not authentically convey the reality of a person with COVID,” and called for it to be pulled off the air.
In response to the backlash, the Australian government defended the ad.
During a news conference Sunday, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly acknowledged that the ad was “quite graphic, and it’s meant to be graphic.”
“We are only doing this because of the (COVID-19) situation,” Kelly said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also addressed the backlash in conversation with CNN affiliate Sky News Australia, saying that “our very critics were saying that the advertising needed to be stronger, far stronger, even making references to grim reapers.”
“[The ad] has two messages… one is to stay at home,” Morrison added. “We can’t be complacent about this. And young people moving around the city was putting people at risk right across the community, including themselves.”
Aazar had just turned 18 back in 2013, when he signed up to work with Western forces in Afghanistan, perhaps not fully understanding that it would place a clear target on his back.
For 11 months, Aazar – a pseudonym we are using to protect his identity – worked as an interpreter for U.K. troops in Helmand Province. But when he later sought asylum, believing he could fall prey to a vengeful Taliban that saw interpreters as traitors, Aazar learned he was ineligible because the asylum threshold required that Afghan interpreters had worked for at least one year. Aazar fell shy of that by a single month.
He managed to find refuge in New Delhi, India, but he still holds out hope of getting to the U.K. He says the asylum rule is arbitrary and unfair. “If I work one day, [the Taliban] will cut my head,” Aazar said in an interview. “If I work 10 years, they will cut my head.”
Since the start of the US-led war two decades ago, the Taliban has targeted anyone it sees as “stooges” or collaborators. People like Aazar.
Now, as the last American and Western troops withdraw from Afghanistan – President Joe Biden set a deadline of Sept. 11 – Afghanistan’s security forces will soon be on their own.
Taliban fighters have meanwhile taken almost 20 districts over the past two weeks and staged increasingly audacious attacks across the country. A spate of targeted assassinations have killed dozens of journalists, rights workers, academics, religious leaders and other prominent figures over the last year. The majority of these attacks have gone unclaimed, but the Kabul government believes the Taliban are behind most, if not all, of these killings.
Interpreters fear that they could fall victim to such killings, and the effort to evacuate Locally Employed Staff, or LECs, who worked with foreign forces, has grown increasingly desperate.
In an unusual statement released earlier this month, the Taliban said that Afghans who had committed “treason against Islam and the country” would be left alone as long as they express remorse, and could “return to their normal lives.”
Sayed Jalal Shajjan, a Kabul-based researcher who has been studying the fate of Afghans who worked with foreign forces, says the statement will do little to reassure any of the Afghans who fear for their lives. “It’s not a clear statement. It just further problematizes everything. How exactly should someone show remorse, whom should they approach, and how would they provide adequate proof? A statement alone is not a guarantee.”
On June 4, a bipartisan group of US representatives, many of them veterans, sent a letter to President Biden, calling for the immediate evacuation of all Afghans who worked with American forces to the US territory of Guam, where their asylum applications could be processed in safety.
“If we fail to protect our allies in Afghanistan, it will have a lasting impact on our future partnerships and global reputation,” the letter concluded.
Earlier this week, Biden said, “Those [Afghans] who helped us are not going to be left behind,” but offered few details as to how he would evacuate thousands of people in a two-and-a-half month period.
In April, the British government introduced a new policy making it much quicker, and easier, for former interpreters to claim asylum. But, again, not everyone is eligible.
Similar cracks exist in the US asylum scheme. Only Afghans who served with American forces for at least two years can apply, leaving many out in the cold.
Last month, a number of global charities, led by the International Refugee Assistance project, released a joint statement. “With the ongoing withdrawal, NATO member states must act urgently to guarantee the safety of present and past Afghan locally engaged civilians,” it read. “Time is running out.”
Time, is of course not on their side. As Shajjan, the researcher, points out, the process of vetting and physically evacuating people usually takes up to nine months.
“That amount of time is no longer feasible.”
“Was he working with the infidels?”
Afghanistan has been plagued by conflict since the communist coup d’etat of 1978. Four decades of war and violence have left a permanent imprint of millions of Afghans who, like Aazar, were born into war.
By 2001, the country, and its citizens had already seen a communist coup, Soviet occupation, a jihad, civil war and five years of Taliban rule. Then, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a coalition of 40 nations, including the UK, Germany and Australia, invaded the country to topple the Taliban, whom they accused of harboring Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of al-Qaeda.
In 2014, the vast majority of foreign forces withdrew from the country and those that remained moved from a combat role to an advisory one. Since then, more than 26,000 Afghans, and their families, have been granted asylum in the US. But at least 18,000 LECs who worked with the Americans remain in Afghanistan.
It was around that time that Aazar managed to leave the country.
While still in Helmand Province, he got worrying news from his father back home in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. A distant cousin, who was believed to be linked to the Taliban, visited the family home, claiming he had seen Aazar on the frontline. “He came to my father, and he was asking, where is your son?” Aazar recalled. “Is he alive or dead? Was he working with the infidels?”
Fearing for his life and that of his family, Aazar resigned his post with the U.K. forces and returned to Kabul, where he worked briefly as an English teacher. “I was very afraid,” he said. “I would not go directly to my home. I would change my way. I would be looking back to see if they were following me.”
After a close friend who had worked as an interpreter was found dead, Aazar said he fled the country.
Shajjan, the Kabul-based researcher, says people like Aazar, most of whom were young men trying to provide money for their families, are easily identifiable by the Taliban.
“It’s the nature of their work, they are the ones standing next to the foreign troops and telling them everything that’s being said. They are highly visible and extremely vulnerable,” said Shajjan.
Adding to the dangers is the fact that these translators were also present – though their faces were concealed with masks – during the highly controversial night raids into people’s homes and the interrogations conducted by foreign forces.
“All these activities on behalf of the foreign forces made them easily recognizable to people in the community and even easier to pick out and track by the Taliban,” Shajjan said.
“Falling through the cracks”
As a Muslim refugee in India, Aazar’s position has been precarious, even desperate.
Before the pandemic hit, Aazar was working 18 hours a day in a restaurant, sometimes sleeping on tables between shifts. He says he is often underpaid for his work but he has no one to complain to. To Aazar, it all seems like a pitiful reward for his frontline service.
“I’m not blaming the Indian people,” he says. “But it’s very hard… You can’t even get a home, landlords won’t rent to you, because you are a refugee… you can’t get jobs, because you are a refugee.”
“I haven’t seen my family – my father, brother, mother, sister – in eight years,” he said.
In the meantime, he is getting support from the Sulha Alliance, a group founded by U.K. veterans of the Afghan war. Its representatives confirmed elements of Aazar’s story.
Dr. Sara de Jong, a professor of politics at the University of York and one of the group’s founding members, said too many LECs have “fallen through the cracks of the relocation policy.”
“The fact that the government failed to have an appropriate policy in place earlier cannot be a reason to exclude these guys,” she said.
But Aazar could be one of the lucky ones.
Farwan – also a pseudonym – is another LEC working with the Sulha Alliance, and he is still in Afghanistan. “I cannot go outside,” he said in an interview, “because if I go outside, I will be targeted by my tribe, targeted by the Taliban; I will be killed.” His voice is half a whisper over the phone.
Farwan was also working in Helmand, and he was dismissed from the military for fighting with a fellow translator. Because of this disciplinary breach he’s not able to claim asylum in the UK.
“I was an interpreter in a patrol base,” he says “I had a fight, one fight, with the other interpreter… then they told me my contract was terminated.”
Last month, near his home in Laghman Province, in eastern Afghanistan, the Afghan National Security Forces managed to repel an attack by the Taliban, and Farwan said he lost his property.
The threats that sparked the war in Afghanistan remain, but methods of dealing with them have changed. Increasingly, the U.S. and other countries rely on local forces to combat extremists, instead helping to train and arm them. In Iraq and Syria, for example, troops from across the world trained local forces to fight the Islamic State.
But without relocation policies in place, the plight of local staff in Afghanistan is showing that working with the international community can have dire consequences.
“These are guys who have had to put bits of people in body bags,” Dr. de Jong said. “We also need to ensure that these people can build up a meaningful life. It’s not just about staying alive. It’s about the right to a life.”
This “uninhabitable” four bedroom house in a Sydney suburb sold for $3.5 million (4.7 million Australian dollars), despite not having a toilet, kitchen, flooring, or power, selling agent Joe Recep told Bloomberg.
The house sold at auction on June 5, according to its listing on Australian property site Domain.com, where it’s marked as “sold.”
The listing says that “behind its charming character façade” the property is in need of “major work.”
Joe Recep, selling agent at NG Farah Real Estate, told Bloomberg that the property lacked basic amenities like painted walls, a toilet, kitchen, or power.
The 556.4 square-meter home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and is described as a “neglected period home” with “uninhabitable interiors” in its listing.
The median price for four-bedroom houses in the Sydney suburb is $2.28 million (3.055 million Australian dollars), according to data from Domain.com, based on sales within the past 12 months.
The property received 30,000 enquiries in four weeks from all over the world, including buyers in the United States, United Arab Emirates, and New Zealand, Recep told Bloomberg.
The property listing says that it has off-street parking space for three cars, and is close to a vibrant shopping and restaurant district as well as several schools.
The property’s listing describes it as an “extremely rare opportunity with big potential,” and the new owners can restore it to its “former grandeur.”
The listing says that the property sits in the “heart” of Kensington, a Sydney suburb.
Recep told Bloomberg that he’d been in real estate for 25 years and had “seen nothing like” the surge in interest for the dilapidated property.
A birthday party in Australia has been called a “superspreader” event after 24 out of 30 guests tested positive for COVID-19.
The highly infectious Delta variant could have infected every guest at the party had there not been six fully vaccinated healthcare workers in attendance, New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Monday.
“I can also advise that six health workers who attended the party, who were fully vaccinated, not one of those people has been infected,” he added.
Among those six was an elderly party guest, a care worker who had only received a single dose of the vaccine. Despite that individual’s risk factors, they still did not contract the virus, Hazzard said.
The Delta variant is driving Australia’s recent outbreaks
The birthday party took place in the West Hoxton area of Sydney on June 19. Another seven cases have been linked to the party since household contacts were exposed to the infected guests.
The 31 cases linked to the party are just one cluster in the outbreak affecting Sydney, which tallies to 170 active cases in New South Wales. The state is currently under a stay-at-home order in an attempt to curb the spread.
Australia did a much better job controlling its coronavirus outbreak in the first year of the pandemic compared to most countries – including the US. But the country’s relatively low case and death counts meant that it was not as quick to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
With roughly 5% of the Australian population fully vaccinated, the country is especially vulnerable to the arrival of the Delta variant, which is far more infectious than the original virus.
Green-lighting crypto ETFs could risk “real harm to consumers and markets” if not properly regulated, Australia’s top financial regulator said on Tuesday.
Writing in a paper calling for industry comment, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission noted significant consumer demand for crypto ETFs, but warned the products could easily do damage to consumers and markets if poorly designed.
Conversely, ASIC acknowledged that a well-thought-out crypto ETF could be a viable product, subject to the commission’s standards. “At this point in time, in our view, the only crypto-assets that are likely to satisfy these [standards] are bitcoin and ether,” it wrote.
ASIC’s proposed standards included institutional adoption, transparent pricing mechanisms, and a “mature” spot market, echoing some of the SEC’s concerns that the bitcoin market may be subject to manipulation.
The commission suggested that the existing six asset categories under Australian law don’t accurately capture the behavior of cryptocurrencies. It proposed a new category, called “eligible crypto-assets,” that would need new rules and definitions.
ASIC’s difficulty categorizing crypto bears similarity to regulatory struggles in the US, where a patchwork of financial regulators have alternately classified bitcoin as property, a security, and a commodity.
Caroline Rainsford, 39, is Google’s country director for New Zealand. She oversees about 50 employees in Auckland.
Rainsford, who previously worked at L’Oréal, Philips, and GE, got a recruiting call from Google in 2017. At the time, she was three months into her maternity leave for her second child.
After a five-month interview process, Google offered her the role and asked how long she intended to take for her maternity leave. (In New Zealand, parents are entitled to one year of maternity leave — six months of which are paid.)
She told the recruitment team that she was planning on taking the full year, but for this opportunity she would end it early if necessary.
“And they said, ‘No, we’re happy to wait for you,'” Rainsford said. “And so I started in this company with just the best experience. Being a mother was always first. So in my approach as a leader, I feel like I’m this custodian to make sure that everyone has that experience now if they want to be a working mother.”
On top of her New Zealand duties, Rainsford has been managing more than 1,800 Googlers in Australia for the past several months while their managing director is on a year-long maternity leave.
“With working more closely on the Australian business, it was important that I got over to Sydney to get valuable face time with some of the team,” she said.
Here’s a look at Rainsford’s daily routine in Auckland while she oversees both Google New Zealand and Google Australia.
6 a.m: “On a weekday I usually wake up at 6 a.m. naturally thanks to two small children-shaped alarm clocks,” Rainsford said.
Rainsford said she tries to get eight hours of sleep each night so she’s at her best for a full day of parenting and working.
“The kids and I usually have Vegemite toast for breakfast — a classic in any Kiwi household,” she said.
7:45 a.m: Rainsford drops her son William, four, and daughter Olivia, six, off at school three mornings a week. “I love doing this as they tell me all the good stories in the car on the way,” she said.
Rainsford employs a nanny who takes the kids to school the other two days of the week.
As a single mother, Rainsford’s message to young women is that you can “have it all.”
“I think that it’s really about integration.” she said. “… Everybody at Google New Zealand and a lot of Australia know my two children. The nice thing about the last year and a half is it’s made us all way more vulnerable and it’s made us more open to who we actually are as people.”
On the days she doesn’t do school drop-off – or if the traffic isn’t too bad – Rainsford takes a morning walk around the waterfront of Auckland.
“The eastern bays are stunning and it hasn’t been too bad getting through the past 12 months with this on my doorstep,” she said.
On Friday mornings, Rainsford plays golf.
“I used to play golf before I had children,” she said. “One of my goals since joining Google has been to sharpen my skills, so every Friday morning I go and play. Sometimes I only have time for 40 mins of chipping but it is amazing mindfulness!”
9:30 a.m: Rainsford starts her work day by answering emails and preparing for the day ahead before her meetings kick off.
“I’m a huge planner so I always know the most important things I need to get done during the day,” she said. “I also have a sign above my screen in my home office that says, ‘Are you doing what matters?’ and it helps keep me focused on the important stuff.”
Since Googlers were allowed to return to the office in November, Rainsford is working three days a week from home and two days a week at the office.
10:30 a.m: Rainsford heads into the office and has a virtual meeting with Google leaders from the Singapore and US offices.
Rainsford said her number of daily meetings has increased by about 20% since she took over Australia, so she now has an average of eight to 10 meetings per day.
“This has been a really great stretch opportunity for me — something that I encourage everyone to think about in their career and work life,” Rainsford said. “It’s important to feel challenged … it can be where you see the most growth in your abilities.”
11:15 a.m: Rainsford takes 10 minutes to pop over and check on the progress of Google’s new office, which – like the current office – is in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.
“The views are stunning from this vantage point, across Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour,” she said.
The building will be targeting a 5 Star Green Design from the Green Building Council of Australia and will feature a vertical planted green screen with native species and rainwater harvesting, she said.
Rainsford heads back to the current office for a client meeting before lunch.
12 – 12:30 p.m: Rainsford has lunch at the office with some of the Google New Zealand team. “Since we’ve been back in the office, I know the team (and I) have really appreciated this space again,” she said.
When she’s in the Auckland office, Rainsford schedules fewer meetings so she can spend informal time with her team. During the pandemic, she’s tried to be more open with them as a leader about how she weathers challenging times.
“I think there’s going to be a new breed of leadership,” she said. “We will see more vulnerability coming from leaders.”
The biggest lesson she’s learned during COVID-19 is how important it was to reset expectations for her employees, Rainsford said.
“I have this amazing exec business coach and he said to me, ‘OK, you’re in lockdown now across Australia and New Zealand. How are you thinking about resetting expectations with your team? Because they’re not going to be able to achieve like what they would normally, given this pandemic,'” she said. “And so we spent ages in the teams talking about really leveling expectations.”
After lunch, Rainsford heads to a session of a week-long director training course she’s taking through New Zealand’s Institute of Directors.
“This was a one-off course so I can learn about governance,” she said. “I really want to join a few Australia-New Zealand boards in the coming years to support New Zealand business growth and transformation.”
Google helped cover the cost of the course.
3 p.m.: She dials into a Women & Google panel held in Sydney, where she was one of six women participating in a Q&A.
“We spoke about the intensity of work in the first few months of 2021 as well as some of our career highs and lows,” Rainsford said.
Then Rainsford heads to watch her daughter Olivia’s after-school activity: rugby.
“Since COVID I have learned that it is possible to make time to attend my children’s most important moments,” Rainsford said. “Like when my daughter got player of the day at rugby. She is six and plays in an all-girls team. She is very good at chasing the other team!”
5:45 p.m: Rainsford speaks at a Digital Boost Launch Event at The Mind Lab, an education center in Auckland.
In New Zealand last month, Google searches for “online learning” spiked more than 600% from the year before, showing a growing appetite to learn new skills, according to Rainsford.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m: Rainsford spends time with and has dinner with her children.
“I have a tradition that once a week we have a family roast and the kids have to sit at the table with me,” she said. “It means we talk about the day. I cherish it.”
Rainsford tries to limit her kids’ screen time throughout the day, but while she’s cooking dinner, she lets them watch YouTube Kids on the tablet. “Some of their favourite local creators are Rainbow Learning and BBC Earth for the volcano content,” she said.
After the kids are asleep, Rainsford gets back on her computer and takes some time to get any “life admin” done.
“That’s birthday presents for friends, or ordering flowers for my Mum to say thank you, or even booking our next New Zealand staycation,” she said.
Before bed, she spends some time watching Netflix (right now it’s “The Queen’s Gambit”) or reading. “I am currently reading a book called ‘Mental Fitness — Build Your Mind for Strength and Resilience Every Day.’ It’s so relevant given our current environment.”
Rainsford said that despite her busy schedule, her two young children, and the pandemic, she doesn’t regret taking on the challenge of leading Australia for a year.
“Sometimes doing these things that are out of your comfort zone are really, really good, and you should embrace them,” she said. “But I think a lot of particularly young females would say no to a lot of this. So I’m hoping that Australia will convey that you can take on these additional challenges even at the most unusual time.”
Less than 20 years before “the southern titan” became the largest dinosaur discovered in Australia, a 14-year-old boy picked up a piece of fossil that would begin the hunt for the extinct creatures on the continent.
Robyn Mackenzie, Director of the Eromanga Natural History Museum, which houses the dinosaur, told Insider the discoveries began after her son, Sandy, found an unusual rock on the family property in the outback of Queensland.
“And as it turned out, this was the very … beginning of the discoveries of dinosaurs in a really large part of outback Australia, where previously they’d never been discovered before and it wasn’t even a belief that they would have been preserved in that area because of weather,” Mackenzie said.
Not long after that discovery, a team dug up the skeleton of what would be the Australotitan cooperensis, or “southern titan,” in 2007. It would take another 14 years to officially identify and describe the dinosaur to find it was among the top 15 largest in the world.
Mackenzie told Insider her team is currently describing another dinosaur that could possibly be larger than the super titan.
Australia, unlike China or North America, wasn’t a great home for dinosaurs
Bri Bollmann, host of the NeoJurassic podcast, told Insider that during the dinosaur era a great deal of the landmass that is now Australia was underwater, making it difficult for dinosaurs to live and have their fossils preserved there.
“There wasn’t really a lot of available landmass for dinosaurs to be living on for much of their time on earth,” Bollmann said.
It’s not that dinosaurs didn’t live in Australia, but simply that much of the landmass was underwater and areas that would have been prime real estate for finding fossils have “been brutally eroded down to nothing,” Bollmann said.
“They’re definitely out there, but it’s certainly more of a challenge than say North America or China, for instance, where fossils are just shooting out of the ground left and right,” Bollmann said.
That reality made people very pessimistic at the idea of finding fossils on the continent. Mackenzie said she didn’t believe there were any until American paleontologist Paul Sereno visited Australia in search of fossils in 1998.
“[Sereno and his team] left with the belief that it was possible. There was enough geological evidence to sort of show fossilized evidence, not dinosaurs necessarily, but plants and other kinds of small things,” Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie never imagined that her family would be on this journey
Mackenzie and her family were sheep and cattle graziers. While her husband in particular was fascinated with dinosaurs, they never imagined ever doing any work in paleontology.
“Our family was around all this when [Sereno] came and so obviously got inspired by all that,” she said. “[We] still had no idea what it was going to look like since they didn’t find any dinosaur fossils at that point. We were feeling very confident. We knew it was very possible but we just really didn’t know too much about it.”
But after her son discovered the bone on their property a few years after Sereno left Australia, they realized there could be more and began learning about dinosaurs and digging. Finding one fossil led to finding many, until eventually Mackenzie and her team found the largest in the country.
“It’s such an unexpected thing and I guess not in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought previous to the day that that first piece of bone was found that I would be doing what I’m doing today,” she said. “It’s quite extraordinary when you think back on that fist-size piece of bone that our son found in 2004, which he easily could have just left on the ground and kept going. But he picked it up and that marked a change in the history of our paleontology, a change in the history of the path our family has taken.”
By understanding how and where they lived, we could understand more about how dinosaurs may have gone extinct
Bollmann said the Australian discoveries could give greater insight into how dinosaurs lived and allow us to understand how some of the largest creatures to graze the earth went extinct, which could be a lesson for humans.
He explained that the discovery of these large dinosaurs shows how they grew and developed to adapt to their environment, but ultimately it was that very large growth that helped bring about their extinction.
For humans, he said, we’re developing at such a fast pace, with so many different ecosystems we rely on for our survival that if any were to malfunction, we may also become too big for our own survival.
“What I think is interesting about these dinosaur discoveries and what we’re learning about in Cretaceous species and Titanosaurus is again a reminder or perhaps a warning to people to realize that we are very much linked with the natural world and we think we’re above it and we think we can navigate these crises better than we actually can,” he said.
He said learning about how and what happened to the dinosaurs through these discoveries can help people learn “where we are in our relationship with the world today. I think that is the strongest value that we can have.”