Roughly 100 senior women in media and marketing attended an inspiring discussion about ‘re-imagining your career’ at The Ivy Penthouse in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday night.
The event, hosted by the Senior Women in Media and Marketing (SWIMM) group, featured a panel of four industry figures: Sarah Wyse, founder of Wyse Women and chief revenue officer of Allure Media; Tom Culver founder and CEO of Goodments; Taryn Williams, founder and CEO of The Right Fit; and Paul Brooks CEO of Carat.
The quartet came together to share their stories and experiences as it relates to re-imagining careers, whether that be finding a way of balancing life’s priorities through flexible working opportunities through to taking the plunge and starting that business idea you have always dreamed of.
Co-founder of SWIMM, Kate Edwards (who is herself an entrepreneur who left the corporate world to start up her businesses Kontented and SnackableTV) moderated the panel and took questions from the high-profile audience who were keen to understand some of the learnings and experiences from the panellists.
With four different stories told by four different people with very different backgrounds, it became immediately clear that there is no single or right approach to reimagining your career.
Culver shared his story of how he created a two-year exit strategy to leave his corporate job at ANZ to launch his fintech start-up, Goodments, whose mission is to create a more sustainable future by making it easy to invest in good business.
Culver undertook an MBA before starting his business with wife Emily Taylor, and carefully planned his exit into the world of tech start-ups.
He shared his motivation and passion for his new business, whilst opening up about some of the more daunting moments along the way, including what it was like to sacrifice his steady income, going into business with his wife, the process around raising capital and the unknowns of what the future brings.
Williams then spoke about her experience and how she got started. After launching her first business – WINK Models – 10 years ago, WIlliams recently started her second venture (The Right Fit), a two-sided marketplace connecting creative talent with businesses looking for models, photographers, influencers and stylists in an easy to use end to end platform.
Williams explained that her motivation came from the need to create a solution to simplify the talent booking process as in her mind the industry was in disarray.
She re-imagined the model for her industry and told the audience that for her, being surrounded by great people and having mentors to help guide her along the way was a real aid in getting her businesses off the ground.
Williams said she has had several mentors along her journey, and is always tapping into a range of skills and experiences to help her with advice depending on the challenge she is up against.
Brooks also joined in the conversation, sharing how, as the CEO of one of the country’s largest media agencies, he thinks about supporting the careers of his staff staff’s.
Brooks identified both senior women and those who have just started out in the industry (under two years of experience) as the two groups that Carat is most at risk of losing if employment structures and practices don’t evolve.
Brooks believes that as an industry, we need to re-imagine the way we work, and flexible working is critical to attracting, maintaining and growing his employees – both professionally and personally.
After launching the agency initiative ‘Flex It Your Way’, Brooks said that over a quarter of employees at Carat are now working flexibly, which has, in turn, seen motivation levels across the board increase and churn rates significantly lower.
Finally, Wyse shared her story and the story of over 100 members who are now subscribed to the Wyse Women service.
The Wyse Women initiative was set up to provide experienced women in the industry with an alternative to working, connecting them with flexible opportunities in the industry.
Whether it be stay-at-home mums, women on maternity leave, entrepreneurs looking for projects to help support them while they launch their business, or those who are simply burnt out after years of long, intense work weeks, looking for a more flexible schedule, Wyse Women caters for all women, helping to educate companies about to engage this highly skilled and talented workforce.
As someone who is living proof that the portfolio career does exist and can work, Wyse talked about how working practices and structures are evolving to hire for skills in a flexible capacity. For her, re-imagining your career doesn’t need to be an all or nothing task.
With an honest and transparent approach, Wyse explained she has the support of her colleagues at Allure whilst she continues to pave the way for all women (and men) in the industry. “Start small and dream big” was her advice, and so far she has seen a lot of success with this approach.