Faces of AWNY: Meet Emily Cones-Browne

We’re wrapping up the year with our final Faces of AWNY of 2022 and introducing you to one of our new members of the Communications team—Emily Cones-Browne. Originally from Newcastle, NSW, Emily is a talented PR and Comms professional who is a lover of travel, running, a good book, and also an avid piano player. We’re proud to have her as one of our amazing ANWY members and look forward to you getting to know her a little more.

What were you working on in Australia and what led you to move to New York City?
After graduating from UNSW with a Bachelor’s in Communications and Journalism, I worked for a boutique magazine publisher’s two titles: Art Collector (the oldest visual arts magazine in Australia!) and Art Edit Magazine. 

NYC had always intrigued me—it might sound like a cliche, but there was something about the energy and possibility/potential of the city that drew me to it like a moth to a flame. I had a small window of opportunity to move from San Francisco to NYC, so I took it. It was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

We all get the pangs of homesickness, but is there anything specific you miss?
Ironically, the longer I’m away from Australia, the more I’m starting to miss the things that made me want to leave in the first place! When I think about the slower pace and laid-back way of doing things, the simpler lifestyle, I get nostalgic. I really do feel that when you become an ex-pat, your heart is forever in two places, so it may be a case of ‘the grass is always greener’, but there is something special about Australia that people recognize globally (if I had a dollar for how many times I’ve met people that love visiting Australia or meeting Aussies…!) I also miss being close to my dear friends and family. When I am really feeling homesick though, I like to watch a classic Australian TV show like Kath and Kim or call my mum.

Tell us about your current role and what you’re up to career-wise in NYC.
 I’m the Global Public Relations Officer for the architecture firm, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, which involves overseeing global media relations and communications strategy, along with working on fun things like special publications and social media. I’ve always been drawn to the creative industries (art/design/architecture) and I feel lucky to be a Communications professional in NYC—it’s truly the epicenter of creativity and creative energy. There are a lot of opportunities in Communications here. 

What were your first impressions of NYC & how has that changed since living here? 
NYC used to feel very big—now it feels quite small! That said, the same energy is still palpable, and every now and then the city will present a magic moment that makes it feel like everyone living here is in on some kind of secret. It’s pretty wild how millions of people can coexist on a tiny parcel of land. One of the biggest misconceptions I had, when I moved here, was that New Yorkers were mean. It’s simply not true—unless you stop suddenly on the sidewalk!

If you had to name them, what are your top likes and dislikes about living in the city?
I like how many people have dogs (& dog strollers) & that those people bring their dogs to work—it’s a very dog-friendly city, surprisingly! I dislike the airports—they’re so far from the city.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve been faced with & how did you overcome it? 
I moved to NYC from San Francisco with just two suitcases, on the heels of a breakup. I didn’t know anyone in NYC, and I didn’t have a place to live. 7 years later, I’ve built a life that I love and have learned some invaluable lessons along the way. I did this by taking it one day at a time and saying yes to every opportunity that came my way—big or small. The small daily habits become the big life changes.

What are some ‘only in New York’ moments you’ve had? 
Touring the top of The Woolworth building with a client; participating in the Second UN Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities at The United Nations; marching in the Women’s March in 2016; witnessing the incredible resilience, love, and sense of community that New Yorkers have for one another when the pandemic was at its height.

Outside of work, where will we find you & what are you passionate about?
I love to run in Central Park, take photos of the city, read books (Louise Penny is my new favorite author), and play piano (there’s a great service in Times Square that allows you to rent an Upright piano in Manhattan!)

Name the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC? 
That it’s a true hustle, and also very much about connections and networking. Also, you have to be careful of setting boundaries for your life and being mindful of taking time to rest, or else burnout can happen pretty quickly! When there’s always something to see and do, it takes practice to know when to say ‘no’. 

For folks wanting to make the move, what’s some advice you’d love to share?
 I didn’t go the traditional safe route with my move to NYC (not by choice!) so would recommend mapping out at least a rough career trajectory or set of goals before you arrive in the city. That said, and depending on the industry you work in, sometimes it’s easier to find a job and a visa when you’re ‘boots on the ground’ and meeting people in real-time. I’d recommend connecting on LinkedIn with as many NYC Aussie ex-pats as possible, to pick their brains and gain confidence that this is something well within your reach—something many others have done before you! 

Give us the insider intel: What are your fave spots in the city?
My favorite place in the city is Central Park or Tudor City Park for some grounding nature vibes
For brunch, I love La Cabra in the East Village for Copenhagen-style pastries and coffee. And for cocktails, it changes quite a bit, but there’s a new Ukrainian bar called Slava on West Houston street that does a great Espresso Martini. They also have a Borscht cocktail which is… interesting and not for the faint-hearted!!

What are your top 3 tips for friends visiting NYC?

1. You’re not going to be able to ‘do everything’ in one trip – prioritize what you most want to get out of the trip and really do those things properly! Also, use the subway to get around – you’re guaranteed to see some ‘Only In New York’ moments.

2. Make sure you have enough of a balance between touristy activities and just sitting in a cafe to absorb the atmosphere and people watch

3. Have a bagel from Ess-a-bagel. You will not regret it.

What do you like most about being part of AWNY? I’ve only just joined the group but already feel the positive effects of being connected to such a warm group of Aussie women. There’s something to be said about connecting with fellow ex-pats, and knowing there’s an unspoken understanding about being an Australian woman in NYC.

To connect with Emily, follow her on social via @ejcb or email her at em.conesbrowne@gmail.com.

Author: Sarah McLellan Mee

Sarah is originally from Bundaberg, Australia and moved to NYC at 17 (over 22 years ago). Initially she worked as a dancer and singer on Broadway (42nd Street, Queen's We Will Rock You) and then toured around the world in a critically-acclaimed rock band. Transitioning from performance, she moved into the digital media world—mainly focused on clients in the travel and food space. Sarah has worked as an editor, agency social media strategist, VP of Marketing for a major restaurant group, and as branded content editor for Bon Appétit magazine and other publications at Condé Nast. Sarah lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with her husband Chaz and their one-year-old daughter, Alula.

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