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[PODCAST] Experience is what you get when things don’t go as you hoped

Data Stories: Leaders at Work is a weekly podcast brought to you by Audiense. Hosted by Rahul Jerome, founder of, the series captures personal anecdotes and career highlights from some of the most talented and brightest minds in the research and insights industry.

On this episode of the Data Stories: Leaders at Work podcast, I talk with Joe Rice, Head of Data and Enterprise Solutions at Twitter. An American living in London, Joe got his bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University in the U.S. because he thought that he wanted to be a diplomat working for the State Department.

Upon graduating, he was not as keen on that career path, but he had met with a recruiter for a geographic information systems (GIS) company based in Colorado and talked his way into a job with their company. He found that he loved being able to work with spatial databases and map various infrastructure elements, but during a trip to visit friends in Ireland he met a friend of a friend who offered him a job there in project management at a pharmaceutical company.

Naivety as a superpower

Joe says that naivety was his superpower because it allowed him to be proactive and take risks to see what could come of the different opportunities he was given. He stayed with the pharmaceutical company for about 2 years and then he fulfilled a lifelong dream of working with the U.S. Peace Corps. He was sent to Romania for a 2-year commitment during which time he met with the mayor and city council on topics like economic development and strategic planning.

At age 27, Joe decided to pursue his MBA at Oxford after which he began working for Cisco in internet infrastructure and business development. He felt that he could have been very comfortable there, but he still had a desire to work his entrepreneurship muscles by joining a startup.

In 2012, he joined a small startup based in Boston that was looking for a European presence. They had created an app that was essentially focused on social product placement and content sharing at live events, but they ran out of money after 9 months and Joe left with only his experiences. He did some work in business partnerships and became interested in social care as well as brand engagement, which led him to Twitter.

Creating a space for the freedom of communication

At Twitter, Joe is focused on sales and social intelligence and he also gets to dabble with the technology side of things. He is motivated every day by Twitter’s mission of fulfilling the vital function of providing a space for the freedom of communication. When it comes to enterprise solutions, Joe has a front-row seat to the insights that come from analysing millions of tweets every day to learn about culture, health, and other trends. This niche helps Twitter’s partners make sense of their ecosystems and better serve their audiences. Essentially, Twitter is the world’s largest focus group and Joe’s job is to help their corporate partners tap into this data for the greater good.

Joe sees the daily impacts of his previous work experiences and he encourages others who are looking to carve out careers for themselves to gain experience and exposure by working for a startup when you are young as your risk tolerance is higher. His advice to people earlier in their careers is to know that it will all work out, to give back when you can, to take risks while you have no one else depending on you, and to accept that sometimes you have to go back to go forward.

He emphasizes the importance of being a lifelong learner and being thoughtful along the way, being willing to leave a good thing to get a great thing. As his daughter grows older, Joe is learning to be more intentional about doing things that will have a positive impact on the world and he might pursue something in environmental management and conservation down the road.

The full version of the podcast with Joe Rice can be listened here: