Described as the “secret weapon” of the business world, intrapreneurs are quickly becoming a top commodity of workplace success. Intrapreneur You Need to Know is a series of conversations that takes us behind the desks of successful women making big moves in their career and the steps that led them there.
Truth be told, we’ve politely followed (stalked) Michelle for ages. Not only is she smart, and an advocate for other women, but she has a relentless vision for her career. Motivated, ambitious and rapidly being heroed as a rising female business icon, Michelle spoke to us on building a successful career, closing your dream door for another, tackling self doubt and breaking glass ceilings.
Q1. Deciding to leave a job that you once considered your “dream” role, while still being, in textbook terms “fulfilled”, can’t have been an easy decision. From the outside world, you looked to be at the height of your career towards the end of your 3 year stint (and 3 million registrations) with Bumble. What were the key things that influenced you to – in your words – leave the party whilst you were still having fun?
I will forever be grateful for the experience I had at Bumble. If it wasn’t for that opportunity I would not be where I am today.
My decision to leave Bumble was purely motivated by the opportunity I could see at Keep It Cleaner (KIC) to be part of something from the ground up. I love being really involved in the work I do, and building a business from a local brand to a global success is really what motivates me. I knew at KIC I’d be able to be heavily involved in shaping what was a small business, with so much potential for success, to a global empire.
I also really saw KIC as an opportunity to recreate some of the success I’d experienced at Bumble whilst also playing an important role in higher level decision making.
Q2. As career-driven individuals our identities become so connected with what we do – that changes to our jobs, can become changes to our entire identity. Did you get hit with an identity crisis when moving from your role as APAC Marketing Director of Bumble (and essentially the face of the brand across APAC) to your new leadership role as Chief Marketing Officer at KIC? If so, how did you get through that?
Absolutely, I had a complete identity crisis and really struggled emotionally with the transition, but I don’t think that’s unique. Career changes and jumps can bring with them a whole lot of emotional turmoil and angst, but I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to work with KIC in my role.
In terms of managing that identity crisis, I believe when in any situation that challenges your view on yourself you need to be extra confident in your own ability and continue to remind yourself why you chose to make the decision you did. Play to your strengths and remain positive – it always takes a while to settle and I can safely say the identity crisis has come to an end! It didn’t take long to feel really comfortable once I started in the role at KIC!
Q3. You spotlight how one connection or conversation can change your life. What networking advice would you give to women sitting with that unsettled feeling in their gut that they’re due for their next big move? How close to your chest should you keep these ambitions?
“Don’t ask, don’t get” is a motto I truly believe in. If you’re uncomfortable with any situation you need to speak up. If you’re unhappy or unsure in work, life, relationships there is always something to be gained from speaking to others. Open communication is really important.
In terms of choosing when to have conversations it all comes down to how you frame those. Looking for new professional opportunities or exploring other options doesn’t mean you need to speak poorly of the situation you’re currently in. You never want to self sabotage or have to leave something too soon because you didn’t weigh up your options effectively.
Q4. What’s your advice to someone taking a leap of faith into another executive role, and fearing that they won’t perform up to the standards of their reputation? (*Asking for a friend*)
I can completely relate to this and understand the fear. When I first moved over to KIC I did go through a period of self doubt. What if everything at Bumble was a fluke, what if I have this reputation but I’m not actually that smart, what if I get in the door and no one is impressed with me or they expected more from me? These are all thoughts I had, but I also reminded myself those were the same thoughts I had when I started at Bumble and look at what happened. You have to keep reminding yourself, you wouldn’t be there if you didn’t deserve it.
For me I have always thought let your results speak for you. If you’re ever doubting yourself just get stuck into it and remind yourself what you’re good at.
Q5. We love the hunger in your quote “I just want to see it like blow up” [directed to KIC’s platform]. Speaking in broad strokes, can you let us in on some key strategies you want to focus on for growing KICs platform in 2020?
Upon reflection I really wish I’d deleted my own colloquial language from that quote! When I joined KIC I spent a period of 2 months trawling data and trying to get my head around what the trends were. I was trying to identify what stage I was entering at and how many people had actually heard of KIC. Then what the awareness level was around that. I was so excited by the potential, but we also needed to implement some systems and processes to support us once we were to pull the trigger on “blowing it up”.
I knew a lot about how to start, how to scale and the ingredients to scale. The most important element of a brand is its voice and I’d come from one of the strongest brand voices in the business. I’d then chosen KIC because they have an impactful positive mission and purpose as well.
I could come in with very fresh and somewhat critical eyes regarding the product and its functionality and ability to appeal to wider audiences and offshore markets. The most exciting part about that was once I started to suggest changes they were absolutely heard, actioned and celebrated.
This has all led to some significant changes that are currently in the works and will be revealed in August. I’m beyond excited for our existing community and new users to see these advancements. It’s my belief they will set us up for success and whilst we’ve been building it all out we have implemented new customer care and customer engagement tools to ensure we can support our new users.
Q6. You’ve travelled up a corporate ladder in banking, managing your own team in your early 20’s, launched the Bumble empire in APAC with dizzying success and are now spearheading marketing efforts at the world-class fitness program, KIC. Those are some huge glass ceilings you’ve broken across your twenties. Can you remember the last time you were hit with Imposter Syndrome and what you did to get through it and move forward?
I don’t tend to let self doubt linger. I feel as though it’s something that impacts everyone and you just need to let it pass as it’s not something that deserves your time.
Due to spending a lot of my life competing in sport I have always had coping mechanisms to build my own confidence. I was not the person who would psych myself out under pressure, I always performed better under pressure. I use a lot of the same self-talk I did in competitions to get through work situations. If I get a wave of nerves before something like a panel, presentation or difficult conversation, I will just say to myself “this is your body recognising an important moment and you are now physically preparing for what’s to come”. I have vivid memories of being only 8 years old, and staring at the bar of the high jump, rocking back and forth, saying to myself “you’ve done this before you can do it again”, over and over in my head, even if I had never jumped the height before I would still tell myself I had done it.
Q7. During this lock-down, what has a typical day been like for you at KIC in your CMO role?
I feel fortunate to work for a brand that’s been able to make a positive impact during this time. When lockdown looked imminent, the team and I got to work really quickly to ensure we could provide accessible ways for everyone to access free workout content whilst in isolation. We launched a virtual gym and ran live sessions for 7 weeks, with thousands and thousands of people logging on most mornings.
We were also in a fortunate position to be able to offer employment opportunities during this time which has been really rewarding. Working on our internal communication styles, building out the team and internal structure and laying solid foundations to ensure once we can get back out there the team is really prepared
Q8. The picture of overnight-success-a-lifetime-in-the-making is one you’re likely no stranger to. What would the people around you credit as the core traits that have led to all your well-deserved professional achievements?
Oooh this is hard to answer about yourself! I will use some other peoples words – I’ve been told I have courage in conviction, charisma and am really commercially minded. I know execution is my strong point, Bumble taught me alot about all the elements and channels you need firing at once to create an impact so 360 degree campaigns are what I love working on. I also believe I’m a really hard worker. I give my everything to what I do and I genuinely care about my role and the companies I work for. I think when your professional career is rooted in something you really believe in, it makes it a lot easier to love what you do, and do it really well!
Connect with Michelle Battersby on Instagram.
Header Image via Witchery.