As we sat as a team at Rollie HQ reviewing our upcoming content plan, my heart jumped into my throat when I saw in the plan “8 March - Deb write blog post for International Women’s Day”. For me, International Women’s Day was not on my radar. Embarrassingly, I knew little if anything about the value of this day.
As I read about the history and importance of International Women’s Day, it dawned on me that Rollie has, in its own little way, been empowering women since the beginning. You see, Vince started Rollie after seeing his wife struggle to find flat comfortable shoes that just made her feel great. Frivolous as it may sound in the broader context of women’s issues, back then finding flat, comfortable, stylish dress shoes for women was no easy task. How can you be your best when you’re hobbling around in stilettos?
As we’ve grown, we’ve collaborated with incredibly artistic talented people. Tiff Manuell, Prudence Caroline, Etta Vee, Amber Vittoria and the amazing sister duo at Sage x Clare are just some of the creatives we’ve partnered with. Our McGrath Foundation collection was inspired by the women in Vince’s life and designed to help normalise breast health awareness. And whether by design or sheer accident, our internal Rollie team is mainly women, many of them mums working flexibly. From Design & Production to Marketing & Sales, E-Commerce & Customer Service to Finance, much of what you see put out by Rollie has been put out by women.
So, this International Women’s Day I am reflecting on the fact that while the world is certainly not perfect and there are still many undeniable injustices that exist, the position and prominence of women has come a long way in recent generations. I have immense gratitude toward the countless men and women who have taken small, seemingly insignificant steps towards improving the lives of women and girls. The scale of goodness in the world is immense and each of these small steps create positive momentum towards achieving a state of true equality.
So, in the spirit of paying forward all the support I’ve had over the course of my career, I wanted to share 6 key lessons I’ve learnt about building a career that fulfilling and balanced.
Approach every challenge with enthusiasm
Over the course of my career, I’ve come across a lot of naysayers. It’s easy to see problems rather than solutions. It’s much more rewarding to optimise than criticise someone else’s work. Approach each challenge with enthusiasm. You may not realise but others feed off your energy and in doing so, you make yourself an indispensable asset on any project team.
Know what is important to you and be prepared to stick to it
Values are foundational. When I was approached by Rollie to move across, I was cautious. I was on maternity leave with a 4-month-old. I wasn’t looking for a new job. I was exceptionally happy where I was and satisfied with the balance I had between work and home. Over the ensuing 6 months, Vince and I had a lot of discussions but what absolutely won me over was our discussion about the Rollie values - Live Lightly, Celebrate Colour, Spark Imagination, Create Community, Show Heart. I felt stepping into an organisation whose values align so seamlessly with my own was transformational and unlocked talents & courage I never knew I had.
Separate the personal from the professional
Everyone has a story about a “bad” boss. Someone they just didn’t gel with. Learning to set aside those feelings of frustration and digging into how to be better is an enlightening exercise in self-awareness that will absolutely stand you in good stead for progressing your career.
Relationships are everything
I was never one for “networking nights”. It’s how I’d imagine speed dating to be. Fake, forced and with a not so subtle undercurrent of “what’s in it for me”. Blurgh. The most rewarding relationships of my career came from people I met in the workplace whose values aligned with mine. Relationships where we were both genuinely invested in each other’s success and there was no apparent “end game” or agenda at play. In the past 10 years, not a single role I’ve had has been won off an anonymous job application. Each role has been an introduction through someone I have worked for or with over the course of my career.
Be open to where things may lead
My career started out as a junior lawyer in a top tier law firm. I knew from the outset the fit was wrong when I rocked up to my first day and saw I missed the memo about the dark suits and slicked back hair. Wearing powder blue pinstripes and a curly red mop of hair, I steadied myself for a few years of pain for the ultimate end goal. Experience, relationships and a new world of opportunities.
Surround yourself with people pulling for you
Lastly, and most importantly, surround yourself with people who are pulling for you. Find the people who not only see your true value, they are willing to back you in realising your potential and hold you accountable for doing just that.
And so, this International Women’s Day, I am reflecting on all the incredible people, both women and men who supported and propelled me to the position I find myself in today. Because of people like them, more women have and will continue to have the opportunity to grow into their potential.