8th March, 2022
This International Women’s Day, MYOB is celebrating inspiring women who are successfully breaking stereotypes in business and showing us a better way.
It’s commonly accepted that men and women have vastly different management styles, but what does this mean on a practical level?
This International Women’s Day, we reached out to three inspiring women leaders of business to gain some tangible insight into the management lessons they’ve learned while growing and adapting their teams in increasingly volatile economic conditions.
Design strategist Paris Young founded Pascal Satori in 2017 after finding that there were limited offerings for integrated approaches to design, technology and marketing for small businesses and startups.
With background in visual culture, design, anthropology and branding, the Melburnian says her biggest lesson has been learning to balance patience and productivity. Once you learn where to apply pressure and when to be patient, you can simultaneously reduce stress on your team, and get better results, she says.
Young, who runs an all-female team, says that with all teams, sometimes you need to give things a little space, whether that’s colleagues or decisions, in order for them to work.
“Even though every instinct may urge you to push, adjust or force a change for better outcomes or faster decision making, sometimes you just need to sit back and allow the dust to settle.”
This also entails that for aspiring business leaders and team managers, improvement is all part of the job.
Each fortnight, she catches up with the team to discuss better ways to work together, or to reinforce processes that are working well so that teams to understand why they are in place.
“As a small business, we move really quickly, so I’m constantly cooking up new ways to be flexible and to respond to things that need my urgent attention.”
A crucial part of her role is expecting the unexpected and thinking consciously about their overall experience of the workplace.
Remembering to separate her ‘business owner’ from ‘business leader’ mindset has been the biggest change in her management style.
Young is protective of her team, saying creating a nurturing environment for them is important to her.
“It’s never helpful or productive to load stress onto your team, but recognising that you have the ability to do this (often without realising you’re doing it) or being malicious about it, is so important.”
Young is a community leader at SAMP Network, and is a part of the Women4Women committee under the Sacred Heart Mission umbrella.
She’s an advocate for women in business and is committed to the growth and development of her all-female team at Pascal Satori, which now consists of seven members of staff of all ages: a team that continues to grow in line with the business’s expanding client portfolio.
Brooke Roberts was a product manager in the banking and finance space before making the leap into directorship of an investing platform that provides equity for all to be able to invest – Sharesies.
Despite her experience, she’s the first to admit that she will always be learning.
Roberts runs a growing team all working to grow the platform and put the tools in everyone’s hands to be able to invest with confidence.
Sharesies has achieved Certified B Corp status, which is no mean feat. This is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices.
And Roberts says there’s no one style when it comes to managing people.
“My core management philosophy, put simply, is to look after the team.
“As a certified B Corp, Sharesies is committed to being a force for good, and that includes delivering a positive impact for our whole team.
“We genuinely care that our employees are progressing in their careers, challenged and motivated by the work, and are able to enjoy a safe and fun team culture,” she said.
Despite the tight labour market, she has attracted talented individuals that believe in Sharesies’ mission and share the vision.
“We’re all working together to make a difference in people’s financial lives.
“I think having that shared sense of purpose helps us all to work together efficiently – and have fun along the way,” she says.
As a growth company in the fintech space, change is the norm.
“We’re always adapting to — or creating – the new.
“We’re always evolving whether it’s through new technology, improving our customer experience offering or revamping our employee experience,” Roberts said.
“As we continue to grow and expand, particularly in the Australian market, we intend to maintain this attitude and always dive headfirst into change – challenging ourselves and bettering ourselves in order to deliver the best outcomes for Sharesies investors.”
She also admitted to adapting her approach to management on-the-go as the business has scaled.
“Going from six founders in 2016 to over 200 employees, across Australia and New Zealand, in 2022 and still growing, Sharesies almost feels like its own living entity, always moving, changing, and growing.”
With heavy growth comes growing pains, and this is an important lesson for any manager of a high-growth company.
As Roberts can attest, either the management adapt to meet the changing needs of their team, or they ship out.
“Scaling up the business while also keeping that one-on-one relationship with all staff has been a challenge at times, but it’s something that’s important to me.”
“It’s something I’ve really valued in previous jobs I’ve had, so I always try to make that time to connect,” she said.
Her drive to get her management style just right is also informed by her perceived status as a woman leader in the tech industry.
“It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of female leaders in the financial services and technology industries, which are traditionally male dominated spaces, so it’s important to me that I represent myself and Sharesies as best as I possibly can to help pave the way for future female and underrepresented leaders.”
Saving the planet is a big ask for a single person. But that’s been top of mind as Prisca Ongonga-Daehn works to innovate and build a waterless solution for bodycare products that are kinder on the skin and the planet.
Her Baresop sachets are locally sourced and made in Melbourne from home-compostable paper, and the bottles are locally sourced recycled waste, and are themselves recyclable.
What’s worked well for her has been implementing time tracking and project management apps to help set boundaries for her and the team.
“We use project management software to track progress, monitor all tasks assigned and who is doing what at any time with a single glance.
“This helps me and the team to see everything in a single place and track process accordingly. I’ve found that this also encourages transparency and as a result, trust,” she said.
“When you finish a task on the list, you can see it on the board as completed. That’s quite motivating.”
A key part of her growth into management, Ongonga-Daehn had to learn to trust her team and give them the freedom to accomplish their projects.
“I don’t have to be an expert on everyone’s job to be a successful manager. Instead, I foster a culture where feedback and new ideas are encouraged.
“We’re an innovative and change-focused startup and believe that different perspectives add value.
“The best ideas will come from all kinds of people,” she said.
Being on a mission to create change at scale and operating in a fast-moving sector means change is constant.
“We have to keep unlocking powerful digital tools to enhance the customer journey and shift consumer behaviour to more sustainable and planet friendly personal care product choices.
“We are constantly learning and iterating,” Ongonga-Daehn said.
“We also have to adopt to new technology, be it in improving workflow, reaching and engaging and retaining customers, or tracking our data.
“I believe that mastering the art of changing quickly is the norm,” she said.
She also shares two key transformations that have occurred to her management style.
Being comfortable in the knowledge that she’s not an expert in everything and having the strength and humility to share that with the team has been crucial.
“Sometimes, I have taken that opportunity of ‘not knowing everything’ to learn from the team member who is an expert in that area and as a result advancing my skills and building trust with that team member.”
Sometimes as a manager, you have to remind yourself that you hired a person for a reason (or, perhaps, hired the person that hired that person).
In any case, sometimes an act of faith in a staff member is actually an act of faith in your own leadership and recruitment teams.
“As a startup founder, you’re always going above and beyond to achieve your north star goal.
“You expect your employees to do the same. I have learned to work with people whom I can trust to deliver on their goals, use tools that track progress and have fun as a team.
“I’m on a journey to change the world, that doesn’t necessarily have to be my team’s lifetime work.
“They are coming on this journey with me and I value them immensely.”
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