Leader Led Conversation Over Coffee – Emma Watson from Fronde

By Rosey Nathan – Chief Commercial Officer

It was a personal pleasure to welcome Emma Watson to this Her Career Leader Led Conversations Over Coffee event to share her experience and insights with us, not only on the call we shared, but forever online for all to learn from (link below), so Emma felt absolutely no pressure!

I met Emma at the end of 2009 when I made my first career pivot, securing an Account Manager role with CCH New Zealand, now Wolters Kluwer.  In the 4 years where our working lives overlapped, Emma always impressed me as an inspiring female leader, someone who is knowledgeable, professional, calm, solutions focused, fair, logical, and who also had a great amount of emotional intelligence and humility, while supporting, advocating for, and celebrating her largely female leadership team.

An advocate of continuous growth, Emma graduated in March 21 with a Post Grad Cert in Human Potential for the Digital Economy from Tech Futures Lab

Emma started her career in her native UK in Accountancy and immigrated to New Zealand with one of her first roles being at CCH, where she spent over 13 years across 3 key roles.

Now at Fronde, where initially employed as a consultant, she has been promoted 3 times in her nearly 7 years there and is now their COO, this obviously speaks volumes to her work ethic and abilities.

With real and whole human experience to share, Emma brings a human face to developing an esteemed career as a woman across Business Performance, Strategy, Finance and Governance, in Finance, Publication, Marketing, and Technology sectors

I’m sure you’ll have many inspired and empowered moments from the replay of her session with us.


How pivoting from an early failure can accelerate your own drive, give you a hunger to prove something, and in the end, allow you to find a better fit.

Humility & Patience

You can always get something out of a situation, and it will generally lead onto great things!

Feel the fear do it anyway!

CCH / Wolters Kluwer – what a journey and a fantastic lesson when provided with a role opportunity that was much wanted, but that Emma probably would not have applied for directly!

Emma faced the challenge of being a doing and action person, but making space to take in surroundings

Calm in a crisis – sharing where her incredible calm comes from

Remembering that you can always share a problem

Putting your hand up

Understand your role and job is impacted by others roles and other jobs

People rely on you and you can achieve more and be successful if you work together – make sure your positively leverage

Know the business, pitch solutions and find the right people

Questions not answers

Leverage the skills you have, not just yours, but those in your team, your organisation, and your network

It may make sense to you, but if you don’t share the vision and the why, or get buy in, it’s just not going to happen!

Make sure you’re taking others on the journey and allowing others their own “epiphany”

Emma admits this is a work in process area for her still, luckily, she doesn’t have to have all the answers!!

Extra Questions Answered by Emma!

Emma was kind enough to provide answers in writing to those questions we didn’t get to in the session, take a read below!

  • In those moments of chaos/crisis, how do you not get decision fatigue, and how do you start that delegating process when it feels so huge/unachievable?
    • Share the challenge with my team early, to get the benefit of their input and support. It makes a huge difference to work together, and that helps avoid decision fatigue. It’s really helpful if many decisions can be delegated and owned by the team. But if you have to make a decision on something that you can’t get team input on, then I have always found it helpful to frame it up that way, and then ask for input into how it gets implemented. 
    • Communication is critical, so have to invest time in regular/short check ins sometimes daily to make sure everyone is up to date and you know what is happening next. 
    • I have found that thinking tools like “what is urgent vs what is important” have been useful for making the decisions about what really needs to get done today
  • How has motherhood affected your career?
    • Very lucky to have worked in empowered and supportive organisations so it has not been an inhibitor in any way.  Shared story of being asked to be mat leave cover for 3 months while newly pregnant. 
    • Sometimes it was a huge challenge to need to be in two places at once, it was pretty stressful at times. I was so lucky to have some control over my schedule. Overall I aimed for balance, and put in a lot of energy and planning. I had to be super organised, and I always did a food plan and clothes plan every week to take the pressure of the day to day decisions in the morning and at night. I still do that now!
  • How have you leveraged and articulated your transferable skills?
    • If I think back, I leveraged my overall business and commercial acumen the most. I worked out early on in my career even when I was just in the finance team, that learning about the overall business was critical. If you understand where your role and your department fits into the overall business model and how overall results are achieved, you are putting yourself in a position to expand your own knowledge and experiences in a relevant way. 
    • Also I was lucky to get promoted within the same organisation, that is a great way of leveraging industry knowledge as a way to gain more transferable skills.
  • What is one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your career that you would encourage those here today to implement in their career strategy or growth?
    • If I had my time again I would focus on more purposeful networking. Not just attending events and leaving as fast as possible, which is what I did early in my career. I would encourage trying to identify and make contact with people who are in your industry, or just slightly ahead or just slightly behind you on your career path and finding out how others are succeeding and telling them about what you are doing. 
  • As a leader, how important is the team around you and how can a leader empower their people?
    • Your team is the single most important thing. You can’t succeed without a great team. 
    • Empowering others is an ongoing thing – I am still trying to be better at that – particularly coming out of more challenging, crisis times. 
    • How I try to do it is to make sure that we spend time as a team away from the day to day to create a shared vision of the future, shared goals and objectives.  That usually creates the energy, the alignment and people can create their own goals in that context. Then you have to let them get on with the job. You still need to check in on progress, but with a focus on support and assistance as needed. 
    • The other way is to give someone a task that they might find to be a stretch, and help them create plans and approaches to achieve it.
  • With changing in accessibility to online courses and free or subsidised content, what do you think is the importance of education, formal or informal, for developing a career?
    • Personally I think that learning is critical, however formal education is only one aspect of developing knowledge for a career, and unless you want to consider a career change it wouldn’t necessarily be my first port of call. I am not talking about keeping up to day in your field which is a must do. 
    • I believe learning agility is really important, and that it is a mindset as much as doing a series of courses. Being able to reflect on and get feedback on your knowledge, your skills and your behaviours, and to make small changes all the time is a must do.
    • Learning from others is also really important, which is a good thing to do in a large business – there will be things going on around you and you can see how more senior people work, how they talk and how they behave. (You can work out what not to do this way too!)
    • However some of the gaps can be filled with courses, and this is also a great way to show and demonstrate your interest in.learning and new areas. I’ve done a bunch of things over the past few years.
  • What are your top tips for women dealing with a manager who may find it hard to let go of the reins and pass them over?
    • Try to tackle it positively. Show interest in, and ask about their goals and KPI’s, and look out for things that they may need help with and volunteer to do them (or even better prepare a proposal to show them what you could do and how you would do it). If they say no, then ask lots of questions about what you could do differently to get a yes.
    • It is difficult to work for someone when you feel they don’t appreciate you, or aren’t giving you opportunities but showing your willingness to do more and help out won’t hurt, and will make you feel like you are doing something positive. It will also give you experience to talk about when you go for your next role.
  • Where do you think women sell themselves short in developing their careers?
    • Gosh this is a hard one to answer, as careers can develop in many ways. I think that there are a lot of women who genuinely stop wanting traditional, linear, corporate careers as the richness of their lives expand and there are some amazing women out there doing what they love in their own way. So it’s hard to generalise, but if pushed I’d say there are a lot of women who have discomfort with, and struggle with, talking about the role they play in a teams success. They often talk about the team’s success and underplay their own contribution.
  • Your go-to points for negotiating salary and / or benefits during an annual review?
    • Know what you are worth in the market, but before you can use this you need to be really well prepared to articulate your achievements, and particularly to articulate the benefit they have had on the business.
    • Have a think about what your boss or the company can give you, what is easy to give and what is harder. Each company is different – some organisations can give you leave, some prefer bonus schemes to salary increases, some can give you a training course, etc.
  • Whether you love your job or find it challenging it can be hard to unwind, how do you balance your stress levels?
    • I have always exercised to help with stress, that has taken many forms and has had to be adapted over the years depending on the kids and other things.
    • Over the past few years I have increased the amount of slower paced activities to balance the fast pace of work. I now do yoga, walking and meditation.

Our Her Career team and members thank you Emma, and wish you all the best for the successes we know are still ahead with the aspirational goals you have yet to fulfill!

Want the replay of Emma’s Leader Led Conversation Over Coffee?

Conversations Over Coffee is a safe space created for the members of our FB Group, “Millennial intrapreneurs thriving in their 9 – 5“. The calls are 30mins fortnightly with every 4th call being open to a wider audience and Leader Led

We are always looking for successful senior female intrapreneurial leaders willing to share their story, experiences and insights with our members to accelerate career, money, network. Get in touch if you are, or can introduce us to, someone that fits that bill!