Women Leading Tech: What Blackmores’ Rachelle McDermott Has Learnt From Mia Freedman, Jamila Gordon And Whitney Wolfe Herd

Women Leading Tech: What Blackmores’ Rachelle McDermott Has Learnt From Mia Freedman, Jamila Gordon And Whitney Wolfe Herd
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In just a few short weeks, we will be revealing all of the finalists for this year’s Women Leading Tech awards, when we share the shortlist on April 1.

But before we introduce all of our new finalists, we’re taking a look back at the brilliant female technologists that managed to win big at last year’s awards.

Have you got your entry in for the 2021 Women Leading Tech awards? Be quick! Entries close soon. For more info click here.

Today we spoke with Rachelle McDermott, who is the growth marketing manager at Blackmores. Rachelle won the Marketing category in 2020.

Obviously, last year was the first time we held the Women Leading Tech Awards. What motivated you to enter into the awards?

I’m a big believer in women uplifting women. To work alongside great women and coach women to find their ‘thing’ and develop their own career is something I’m really passionate about.

The Women Leading Tech Awards seemed like a great way for me to walk the talk, show my colleagues and peers that you have to be in it to win it, and make it known that receiving support and encouragement from industry peers is great for all women. I am happy to say that quite a few of my network have entered this year too, which has been exciting to see.

What was your initial reaction to winning this award?

I was shocked! I may or may not have shed a few happy tears as the news sunk in. Once that was over, I immediately thought of the judges who believed I was worthy of this award and my peers who wrote recommendations for me – that really meant so much. I was, and still am, very grateful to them.

What would be your message to someone who might be hesitant about entering into the Women Leading Tech awards?

Go for it! Taking the time to write up your submission, reflect on your achievements and views, not to mention read the recommendations from your peers, is well worth the effort. It will 100 per cent give you the warm and fuzzies.

We know that a lot has changed in the world since you entered into the awards last year. What has changed for you professionally?

My role has shifted dramatically in the last year. I was lucky enough to take part in a Growth Marketing scholarship program with CXL Institute and I haven’t looked back. My day-to-day is now focused squarely on using and embedding growth marketing principles at Blackmores to drive sustainable growth across our membership, subscription and direct to consumer channels. This way of working is new for us so it’s challenging, eye opening and very exciting. I’m loving every minute of it.

Do you have a technologist hero? If so, who is it and why?

Three women I admire immensely are Mia Freedman, Jamila Gordon and Whitney Wolfe Herd. Each of these women have overcome, to varying degrees, the huge challenges and roadblocks that women face – including sexual harassment, racism, lack of education or knowledge and insecurities – yet have become powerhouses. I am forever inspired by their ability to innovate and adapt, how they bring fresh eyes to established problems and how they help women along the way, changing the rules and the standards for those that come after them. Brilliant.

We’re often told about the business case for diversity. What does this notion mean to you?

As a privileged white woman, I realise I am only a very small part of this, and that diversity can only start when we include the marginalised in the conversation. Giving all women a seat at the table to lead and shape the discussion on how businesses are run and how decisions are made, is the only way we will see an impact and force real change.

In your opinion, where does technology fit into the creative process? 

For me the creative idea comes first and the tech second. I believe technology can deliver on everything your creative mind can dream up. If you lead with creative thinking and ideate in a scientific way you will uncover brilliant ideas that tech can enable. Whereas if you lead with tech, I feel you’re more likely to deliver what someone has done before.

How does your role combine creativity and technology?

All the best digital activity is a mix between art and science and that’s what I love most about what we do. Each day at Blackmores we work within a science lead innovation framework that maximises ideation and creativity. It’s this mix of art and science that has led to some of Blackmores’ most successful digital product developments.

Do you believe leadership is a learned skill or is it something that comes naturally?

I think natural born leaders exist but for most of us mere mortals, it is a learned skill that we must continually develop and hone. Over time it may become second nature. I have seen a few leaders who have mastered the skill so well it seems 100 per cent natural, but for many it is a lifelong learning process that takes a lot of finessing.

The part that I believe comes naturally is a genuine commitment to people and a true passion to see them develop – this is essential in authentic leadership and is something that is either in you or isn’t.

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