Strivin & Thrivin E18. Meahan Callaghan

Strivin & Thrivin Ep18. Meahan Callaghan – Chief People Officer

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Welcome to this episode of Strivin & Thrivin, the career development podcast inspiring you to make some bold changes. 

During this week’s episode, we chat with CEO and Founder of BoB Group – Meahan Callaghan. 

Meahan founded BoB in 2016 in a bid to help HR people build successful careers and successful workplaces. During this podcast, we explore the similarities between customers and employees and what Meahan learnt during her stint as Chief People Officer at Afterpay, the shop now, pay later platform, as well as covering her time as ChiefCustomer and People Officer at Message Media. On reflection, she explains how Brene Brown’s definition of vulnerability helped her approach the challenges associated with Covid-19 and remain aligned with the leadership teams she collaborates with.

Enjoy this episode and be sure to sign up to Strivin & Thrivin for more career insights, mentorships and learning materials!

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT 

Laura: I’m your host Laura Johnson and today I’m lucky enough to have Kristen as my wonderful co-host. Today, we’re thrilled to be joined by Meahan.  

To get us started, can you tell us a little bit about your career background and your current role?

Meahan: Sure. So, I’m currently Chief People Officer at Afterpay global payments company, retail company. My career has been mainly Human Resources or now People and People in Culture. I’ve been in it so long, they’ve changed the names three or four times. So, I’m feeling very old these days. I’ve had a couple of stints at getting close to customers because there’s actually quite a lot of alignment between employees and customers, but I’m not very good with customers and seem to be reasonably average with people, but better than terrible so I’ve stuck with the employee side of things.

Laura: That’s brilliant. I did notice that the Chief Customer and People Officer role, and we did say that’s one thing we wanted to dig into because it must’ve been quite interesting one, trying to manage both of those teams, but also just those different sets of stakeholders.

Meahan: Yeah, it’s really interesting. It was great fun. And luckily a smaller company, so easier to get your arms around it. But you think of things like employee engagement, customer engagement, NPS scores, and whether they like you or not, employees, customers, similar thing, branding, similar thing, customer acquisition, employee acquisition. So, the philosophies are very similar. It’s just sort of the external versus internal, really.

And I mean, that’s oversimplifying it and I’m sure career customer people would go, “What is wrong with that woman?”. But similar principles underneath and I think the customer function has to be very customer centric and the employee function has to be quite commercial. So, they’ve got a lot to learn from each other. So, sort of having them in a leadership team together can benefit both to be honest. Or they both go into their separate corners quite well. It works quite well.

Laura: I guess, going back to the kind of start of your career, why did you choose HR? What kind of made you go down that route?

Meahan: Well, I didn’t actually. I was going to be in hospitality. That was my big thing. I am 50 years old. So, I use references that are kind of older, but I saw a film called Tequila Sunrise, I think it was called. Michelle Pfeiffer, again, all these people probably nobody’s ever… they’ll have to Google to find out who these people are. Michelle Pfeiffer was running the front of house of this restaurant and I decided that was definitely me. I could see myself swanning around every Friday and Saturday night doing that. So, I actually got into catering and hotel management first and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t that good at cooking or anything to do with food, so limited.

I came out and joined the Sheraton Hotel Group that was opening in Melbourne. And I really loved that, but just kept moving back towards Human Resources. I was the one writing the training plans for new people when they started. Writing process documents so everyone could know which way to do it. I was worried if employees were upset about something. Often didn’t quite pay attention to the guests over the employee. So, I think that was a fairly large sign early on that I was definitely employees, not out the front. Loved it though. Still love swanning around a five-star hotel, pretending I was very glamorous-

Laura: Who doesn’t?

Meahan:  but I think it picked me to be fair.

Laura: And then the other thing we were looking at just because we’ve had a really good stalk of your LinkedIn profile today,

Meahan: Yes, I can see.

Laura: And the kind of Best of Breed. Can you talk to us a little bit about that? Because I feel like it’s something you’re quite passionate about just from what you were saying around kind of even starting early days, trying to do training and learning plans for people.

Meahan: Yeah. I really, really love my profession. I really do. I find it really exciting the idea of making sure employees are happy, making sure they’re productive, treating everyone with respect if they’re not productive and things aren’t going particularly well. And I just spoke to a tech company today, a very small start-up that are doing something that would be fantastic for employees lives. So, I find at twenty-five years later, I still absolutely love my profession.

I quit for a while working full time to be with my child. And BOB came out of an idea to try to disrupt the Human Resources industry. So as much as I love it, I’m also unfortunately one of its biggest critics that I think sometimes we’re more focused on control than empowerment. We’re more focused on rules than we are principles. And I’ve had some great people show me better ways to do HR. And BOB was an intention to chat to all of the… We did a podcast, chat to a whole lot of HR professionals and sort of who were doing more interesting things and challenging the way things are done, hoping that the more junior HR people coming through wouldn’t follow what they learnt in their courses.

I won’t say, because if you do a HR degree, you learn things that are just strange. So, trying to prove there’s actually a better way to do things. Use the principles, treat people well, follow the law. Good idea, but you don’t necessarily have to be so rigid as what is taught in Human Resources. And a lot of Human Resources comes out of manufacturing. A lot of its origin is manufacturing, controlling, people making widgets. And so, it just doesn’t apply to other sorts of companies like tech companies or hospitality companies, or what have you. So, trying to shine a light on that.

I got the pleasure of working with two people that I’d worked with in a previous company and so we just had an absolute ball to be honest. So, it was also just a nice way to spend the day between nine and three before school broke up. So that was the intention behind it. I’m not sure if we were particularly successful, but we had a good time. That was the main part.

Laura: I think if you had a good time, you can class it as a success.

Meahan: Yeah, I think so too, actually, you’re right. You’re very right.

Laura: But I guess on that, so education and kind of university, and I think I probably have a similar run about marketing at university, to be honest to that. How do you manage learning and development as an HR profession? What are your go-to’s? or how have you managed it?

Meahan: Look, I really think the function has evolved so much, but the thing that is always there is that the employee is the customer. A lot of roles I’ve gone into are consulting gigs I’ve gone into. Really that principal would have saved a lot of difficulty if we’d regarded them as customers, you know it is. We’re selling them a service, which is being an employee of this company. They buy it, they commit their lives to it, and we need to make sure that we’re delivering all the things that were on the packaging when we first advertised it, so take your marketing example. And we have to course-correct. If we’re not doing it, we have to respond.

So, I think on a learning and development front… Look, it changes all the time. When I first started, there’s no internet, which seems ridiculous, but there wasn’t an internet, believe it or not. There wasn’t podcasts. There wasn’t LMS systems and all those sorts of things. It was go into a room and get trained with an overhead projector, which is, I think I told myself, I’d never talk like this, but now you just end up, you can’t help it. An overhead projector out of a folder and it was slides that had been used for 10 or 15 years. The same slides, bit grubby on the edges and all of this from being wiped too many times. Now, anytime anyone sees that it’s something that’s been around that long, they’ll reject it straight away.

So, whether it’s gamification now or it’s podcasts or it’s micro learning, micro-credentials, it’s just all evolving so fast. Learning and development goes with the way society is going. I think they say now you don’t need a recipe. You make the cake the way it’s done on YouTube. And that’s how you learn to bake a cake. You look at YouTube, you don’t pull your recipe book out. Learning and development in HR’s the same. You’ve just got to go with what society will accept now-

Kristen: And how’s…

Meahan: While we’re in the workforce different way.

Kristen: How’s the last 12 months treated you? And how’s that going to change in your role as People Chief Leader now?

Meahan: Yes, no. It’s definitely going to change. I can say, lucky, I had a really fantastic COVID experience. Which is a terrible… You feel awful for saying so, because I know that’s not the case worldwide. But I had resigned in January last year to have my 50th birthday. I had a major party planned. I had a trip to Greece planned. I had all sorts of things planned and all of that ended, but you can sort of get upset about that or you can say, “But I had six months living in a holiday house with my son, spending 24 hours a day with him, helping him learn. Sitting outside in the beautiful outside air, completely relaxed. Reading books because I wasn’t working”. So, in what could have been a stressful time for him, I think I made it very calm for him.

I think also it was incredible training ground to join a rocket ship of Afterpay because I have gone from zero gear to gears that haven’t been invented yet. So, I think somebody decided that I was going to have to rest before doing this because this is unprecedented, right? That world’s become ridiculous in 12 months, but it really is. The speed is phenomenal.

Kristen: How has the team performed productivity wise through working from home? And how does that look into the future? Is that going to be a hybrid model, or?

Meahan: Yep, yep. So, it’s been incredible. I cannot take any credit for that. Shannon Payne was the HR chief people officer during the COVID so she’s the one who has an environment of what share price was dropping. Afterpay dropped to $8 at the time. I think there were the dissenters thinking, “This is it. She’s trying to manage that kind of climate, which would be hard enough, and people going home and people getting sick”. So, she took the brunt of that there. I will never ever take any credit for that. It was done exceptionally well because then she faced the complete opposite, her and the leadership team, opposite problem of now we’re all home dealing with difficult topics and difficult news. You’re working really, really hard and you’re on Zoom 13 hours a day. So, she navigated that exceptionally well.

And we’ve got offices in Spain, the UK, North America. So, they’re all still at home and they’ve been at home for almost a year. I cannot even fathom that, but they’ve done exceptionally well. Maybe distracted by how fast things were growing, but we’ve come out now and said there’s three ways of working at Afterpay. One is going to be hybrid, which is minimum two days in the office although that’s flexible. But two days in the office, three days at home or cafes or beaches or wherever you feel the need to, and you can get an internet reception, that’s fine with me. One is still temporarily remote because COVID is two-thirds of our workforce still, and then permanently remote. There’s people that have made it work in roles you wouldn’t have thought would make it work. And those people are permanently remote. We have people that have moved out of where they were living, San Francisco are the biggest example. They’ve moved home to families to be with people. They don’t want to go back and change that aspect of their lives. So, they will be permanently remote.

So, I say it again. I get to manage the kind of upside of this, right? So thankfully what was handed to me was pretty good, so it’s easy to do.

Kristen: And what do you think are some of the early signs or problems that you think might arise through these new ways of working?

Meahan: I think leadership’s the big one. Probably you’re either, and this’ll be awfully black and white. But a younger leader, these are things that require deeper experience, managing people remote in different time zones, working at home with dogs and parents and bad relationships and whatever’s going on at home. Takes some sophistication in leadership, that takes time to develop. And then you’ve got the old dog new tricks sort of one, which is where I fall into it, where all your tactics you’ve used to develop your leadership don’t work anymore. Whether that be drinks with your team or a team activity or an icebreaker in the meeting room or something, they just don’t translate over Zoom. So, everybody’s on their head.

It’s like someone who says I’m really good with feedback, you know that person has got some deep problems because nobody is. Somebody says, “Not a problem. I completely can adjust to remote leadership”, I think they are crazy. We’re just going to have to learn off each other, and things like this actually is the way to do it. But I think everyone’s going to struggle with it.

Laura: I think the leadership ones..

Meahan: And it’s a challenge now.

Laura: I think leadership’s always been really difficult like you were saying for younger leaders, and it’s something we’ve talked about before. Just most of the time you get promoted for being a really good individual achiever and then you get given a team and they’re totally different skillsets, but then no one really gives you training on how to manage a team. You just kind of manage it by mistake essentially, to begin with. But that’s really polarised when you’re at home and people are feeling… Especially in the countries that can’t go into the office, and we can’t do hybrid and they’ve been stuck at home for a year.

And I think I completely agree, and I’d love to know what we do about that and what we can do as individuals, but also as companies because I do think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for people over the next couple of years. But a bit like the hybrid and the flexibility that’s come out of COVID and the benefits of that, I think there could be some huge leadership benefits that we’re actually going to really start focusing on that skillset when it’s not something we focused on before.

Meahan: It’s like wellness. Wellness used to be work, health, safety, and a fire drill. It’s got a whole new angle to it now and so much more important. I think the leadership one, yeah, forces it to go into the spotlight more. And I think it forces the vulnerability, right? It forces people to say, “I’m sorry, I’m tired. I’ve been on Zoom for six hours and I just bit your head off and I shouldn’t have done that”.

There’s things now that’d just be better just to be upfront and vulnerable and honest about it really, rather pretending where we’re really good at it or pretending you just go to that 101 course six modules and I’ll be fine at the end. It’s never true in the first place, but it’s sold a lot of books and facilitated sessions. But I think it’s that evolving thing. You’re never going to be good at it.

Kristen: Yeah. Just on that, you mentioned being vulnerable as a leader. I think… What’s her name? Dare to Lead.

Meahan: Brene Brown.

Kristen: Brene Brown. She talks about vulnerability and leadership and so it’s really hard to teach being vulnerable and certainly the other gender, I feel most women are better at being vulnerable than men are. So as these new HR leaders are coming up through this new environment that we’re all in of post COVID, how do we allow these people to navigate leaders that aren’t vulnerable? How do you train that new generation of leaders of theirs that aren’t vulnerable?

Meahan: Yeah, I know. It’s so hard. You know what? Nobody was vulnerable. We just faked it until we made it. And when you were home no one could tell, right? Whereas now you’ll be in the middle of a podcast and that’s what I’m scared of. My dog’s about to bark and you look silly and you’re trying to put on that your semi-professional.

I think role modelling is the key. Role modelling and awareness is the key. I mean, I’ve worked for some incredible people who will be the first to tell you everything they do wrong. And you’re the one going, “You do things right too, you know”, “Oh, I know but sometimes I get this wrong”. When you hear your managers saying they got something wrong, it almost gives you permission to get something wrong as well. And I think that’s the shift that I see in both genders, but also in diversity generally, is senior people saying, “I need to let you know I’m an introvert and Zoom really doesn’t cater to certain types of personality”.

A lot of people put backgrounds on because they don’t like you pointing out something about their house. And they’re like, that’s very invasive for some people. Some people don’t want to be on the video because that’s all really hard. I think all of that is vulnerability coming out and teaching us to say, “You know what? You should all put your videos on otherwise I don’t know what you’re doing”. Is about as useful as, “You should all be at work otherwise I assume you’re not working”. We’ve proved that one wrong. But now I think we can prove that they don’t have to be on video either. I think it opens up lots of ways to say, “It’s fine. It’s totally fine”. I mean, I think we are all very accommodating of the dog now and the packages and the, “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it”.

Whereas before we probably would have gone… You’d sort it out before you made the call. So, I think we’re getting there, but I do think it is role modelling and being aware of it and saying it. I used to not directly, but worked with Kim Williams at Foxtel and he was an incredible man, and he still is an incredible man. He’d say to me, “Get me a glass of water, Meahan, because this will make me nervous” and that just feels great. You don’t go, “Wow. Can’t believe that. Wipe him off”, it’s a lovely thing to have the conversation going and you can’t pick it, right? You cannot pick who’s feeling vulnerable in the moment.

Kristen: No, true.

Meahan: Everyone fakes it.

Laura: Totally. I always remember having an old boss who used to be a massive extrovert and stages, anything, was his happy place, right? And just loved it. He went to a talk one day and he turned around to me and was like, “I’m really nervous”, and you could see him shaking and for me it was the first time to be like, “Oh, so even you doubt yourself sometimes?”, and it was a real kind of eye-opener to be like, oh, because I just assumed that he did everything. Just kind of wandered on stage and never thought about it. And there’s me that public speaking is my worst nightmare. And actually just seeing that made me realise that it actually took him a lot to do it. And although he enjoyed it when he did it, there was that bit in between and it really did help. So, I think you’re right about that. Just vulnerability with role modelling and just being like, we don’t all have our shit together all the time and that’s okay.

Meahan: No, and in fact, nobody does. If you actually proved somebody did, you’d never talk to them because you’d be just so intimidated by… They have no chink in their armour. You’d be like, “Oh my God, I’m not going to cope with that”, and yet we all pretend we do it. It’s crazy. Yeah. I’d love to meet the person who seriously doesn’t have one. I don’t know who it is. Not me. That’s for sure.

Kristen: Or us.

Meahan: That’s all right.

Kristen: Totally not.

Laura: I guess, just kind of going back now. Obviously, you’ve been in HR for a while, what would you say to anybody kind of starting out their career early on or things that you wish you’d known earlier?

Meahan: Gosh, there’s so much I wish I’d known earlier. I think you need training. You do need things to fall back on. I think where you really muck up is when you get ahead of yourself and start just working off intuition and going, “It’s okay. The power of my personality will fix this problem”, and then you realise that that is the stupidest thing you’ve ever thought to yourself. But models and tools and research and learning, I guess, is where I’m getting to. You can’t stop. Whereas you see your leader and you think, “Well they know everything. So, if I just do what they say, we’re fine”. And I think when I’ve made the biggest mistakes, I’ve stopped learning for a good few months or a year or so.

We had a manager at Foxtel who told the whole HR team, I wasn’t the head of it at the time, but we were very insular, and it still sticks in my mind because I was like, “What the hell does that mean? You don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re amazing”. And then you realise, because you’re not accessing anything, you think you know everything at the age of 25 and you’re done. So, I think that constant learning, assuming there’s something better than what’s in your mind, is really cool. Yeah, that’s probably the biggest one.

I think the other one is also that we get it wrong more than we get it right in Human Resources. But nobody tells us. Because really, you tell Human Resources they’re getting it wrong, where do you go from there? It’s really hard. So, the surveys and things will be more positive than not. The listening sessions will be more positive than not. And so, I think you’ve got to be… I love the exercise of going, if they outsourced the whole Human Resources department, what would be a really good reason to do so? Or what would be better?

And putting yourselves under the microscope and going, “Well, you could, right? There’s employment lawyers, there’s recruitment agencies, there’s learning and development people, you can outsource the whole thing. So, what do we have that’s worth keeping? What do we have they won’t get by doing that?”, and if you can’t answer it, you need to seriously work it out. But yeah, so it’s sort of that constant, not paranoia, but what if? What if we’re not that good? And I think I’ve certainly been in teams where we got a bit ahead of ourselves and thought we were pretty good. So, I’d love to know that from the start.

I think the other one is you’ve really got to know people in the business. You’ve got to know people all throughout the business. You need to know the people who are talking to customers. You need to know the managers. You need to know the people that are supplying the laptops, for somebody who starts because they’ve all got intel as to how your company’s working, which will be a lot better than what the HR department is being told. So, having constant relationships with people in the business at all different levels and getting that intel is much better than anything you’re ever going to read on the report, particularly once you become the head of the department. You’re so far away from knowing exactly what’s going on. So, they would be some things that I… And then just chill out and relax. Seriously. It’s only HR.

Performance reviews are important, but really nobody gets them perfectly right, so just relax and have fun. People want to enjoy themselves 24 hours a day if they possibly can. So, HR should facilitate that in some way that’s not bring your dog to work or something sort of crazy like that.

Laura: I love that. You’ve mentioned learning a couple of times. What are your kind of most recommended books, podcasts? What do you geek out on?

Meahan: I really liked Brene Brown. I’m so wrapped you brought that up. Her podcast was fantastic.

Kristen: Me too, love it.

Meahan: And the books are brilliant. Yeah.

Kristen: Love it.

Meahan: And the podcast is brilliant. Yeah, it’s great stuff. I really like Blinkist, that app because we are all time poor and it sounds so crazy, they read a book to you in 10 minutes or something. But you can do Laszlo’s Google works in about two hours, if you need to. I like that because it just refreshes me on things. It’s been ages since I’ve even thought of that. I love those things. I like watching, this is so bizarre, but you asked. I reckon The Office with Ricky Gervais is something all HR people should watch because I think… He didn’t really have a HR character, but God he should have, right? Because I think he’s done things that-

Kristen: Aren’t they all it?

Meahan: Yeah, I think they might be.

Kristen: Those characters are in every organisation.

Meahan: I know. Once he pulls out the guitar in the workshop, you go, “Okay, we’ve never pulled the guitar out. But as an HR department, we’ve come damn close”, with the strange activities, we’ve got people to do drumming and all this sort of thing. So you go, “It’s not far off”. I think those things are great. But podcast is my thing because you can multitask, right? You put your headphones on and then you can get whatever done at the same time. And then getting out and about and sitting with employees. That sounds so weird, but you can’t get better than that. The comments they make they don’t think are anything, and you’ve gone, “Wow, that’s interesting that you would think that about here”, is really an interesting way to go.

There’s some HR ones which are quite cool, but I think you just sort of jump around to topics that you find interesting rather than following anything too religiously, I think. I love Edward de Bono as well. It’s old and it’s good, but I just love the hats. I love the idea of going well, “That’s really black hat, but look, if we went with a yellow hat for a while, then where would we get?”, and that lateral thinking training, I think is very cool.

Kristen: I really found Culture First… Have you listened to that one? The podcast by Culture Amp? Culture First, it’s really good.

Meahan: No, it’s a goodie?

Kristen: Yeah. It’s a really good one.

Meahan: Okay, I’m on it.

Kristen: Australian guy living in San Francisco, yeah.

Meahan: Yeah, well there you go. Awesome. It is a wonderful medium. I’m not just saying it because I’m preaching to the converted. I think it’s fantastic, and then there’s just really silly, funny ones that are really funny, so they’re good too.

Kristen: So you’ve had a lot of experience in some very, very different organisations. So, from AMP to Foxtel, to Seek, MessageMedia and Afterpay. Lot of different types of cultures and tell us a bit more about start-up life and scale up life and in that mid-market?

Meahan: Yeah, I mean I love high growth. I really love high growth. I feel like I hit the jackpot. Foxtel was an unbelievably great place to work. Seek was even better and now I’ve hit Afterpay. So, if you can have three great jobs in your life, you’d be pretty happy, right? So, I’m a start-up junkie. I do love the fact that we’ve got 18 problems to solve by three o’clock. I find that really exciting. And then if you give me two more at five to three, I’d find that really exciting as well, possibly to the point that I need to have a lie down and a Valium, but still. I love it. I do love that idea.

I really love the founders. I’ve been Seek and Afterpay, I spent some time at consulting into Mecca while I was part-time looking after home things. I find that being right near the center of the company is a unique experience to have. They see things differently. They think of things differently. But they’re so reassuringly consistent. Andrew Bassett 10 years on was still saying the same lines that I could finish for him by that time. Really reassuring to know that the core change, it stays the same.

I was at AMP and there’s nothing wrong with AMP, but not a founder led business. Every time a CEO comes, the whole thing would go through a dramatic change. That wasn’t for me. I’m not somebody who can cope with that sort of thing.

Kristen: We spoke about-

Meahan: I just love the raw energy.

Kristen: Yeah. We spoke about that before, about the importance of purpose mixed with culture. And if the purpose is very clear from the top down, the culture is matched and aligned and on the same path and typically really high performing because they’re all connected to that purpose. Have you ever been around where it hasn’t been that connection, and there’s been a little bit more of toxic disalignment?

Meahan: Yeah, I certainly have, and I think it’s good to have. I used to say that people would join Seek as one of their first jobs, I’d be like, “Oh, you poor thing”, because you don’t know how good it is unless you’ve had some bad experiences. So not to name them of course, but when a company doesn’t know what it is, it’s really difficult and that’s where the toxic nature comes in. It either breeds sort of unfortunate competitiveness between executives or just you don’t know if you’re Arthur or Martha and everything you’re doing doesn’t make sense and you get rewarded for this and then told this isn’t right. And you’re like, “Oh for goodness sake, this is ridiculous”.

You also don’t know what to say to employees. I think it’s a good litmus test if the employee says, “Well, why should I start?”, and you can’t think of a very good reason. You kind of know that maybe the place isn’t that great. I have worked in much harder to change, when they’re negative or toxic. Far harder to change because I think you’re right, it’s not necessarily the people that are working there. There’s something almost intangible that’s gone awry and you’ve got to find your purpose and find your way before you’ll ever get it back. It sounds so kind of weird, but that north star thing that people talk about. It anchors your decisions, and it reassures you when all the decisions and making sense. When you don’t have that, I think people just become toxic because they’re so frustrated and they don’t know what they’re there for. And you’re like, “I’m giving up my time in my day and I don’t know why I’m here and you keep telling me I’m here for this, but I can’t see it. And if I can’t see it, then it’s not real”.

I’ve only been at Afterpay for six months, I know it will be the same. But Seek was the greatest job of my life because you constantly… You’d be going and would go into different scenarios and go, “But that’s bad for a job seeker. So, we can’t have that being bad for job seeker, so we must challenge the way we’re doing that”. It had this really clear sense of what we’re there to do. And I think we had a really good impact. I think Seek’s had a great impact on society. And I do think Afterpay will do the same. I do believe that debt is bad, I do believe there’s better ways to manage your money and I don’t think we train people well enough on financial wellness and financial stability. And so, I think I’ve found yet another home that I’m aligned to in the way that they think as opposed to just a faster widget, which is hard to really back 100%.

Kristen: So that’s your advice, then? If you’re starting out in your HR career, make sure that the purpose aligns and is clear for you.

Meahan: Yeah, you’re so right. You are so right, yep.

Laura: And I think especially, going back to when you’ve got 18 problems to fix by the end of the day, which is typical start-up scale-up, if you don’t feel that passionate about it, you’re never going to be able to handle your 18 problems before five o’clock, right? You’ve got to be behind what you’re doing to be energised by it in that way. If not, it just becomes overwhelming.

Meahan: Absolutely. It’d become overwhelming and then it becomes toxic, I think, because you’ve got to be able to make decisions. If you don’t know what you’re making decisions based on, you’ll just doubt yourself and vulnerability moves to complete lack of confidence, which is not a great idea. So, yeah, the purpose is you’re-

Kristen: Which leads to mental health.

Meahan: Which leads to mental health, which then… Exactly, and then off we go.

Kristen: Here we go. It’s downhill from there.

Meahan: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. The good news is you always need HR people no matter what’s going on. So, it’s a very smart career move from that perspective.

Laura: I honestly could ask you about 60 more questions, but as we’ve got two minutes left, we should probably wrap it up. So, the last question we’ve been asking everyone is, who would you like to hear more from? So, who should we interview next on the podcast?

Meahan: Oh, okay. I’m going to give you Tennealle O’Shannessy, CEO of Adore Beauty. You should get her on. She is amazing. Yes, I’ve worked with her. She’s absolutely incredible. And Michael, who’s the CEO of Redbubble. I can help you if you want. I’ll just shame them into it. If they don’t go on, then we can play this podcast until they do. They’re two people that have inspired me beyond belief on lots of fronts. Holding a family together while being successful, big learners, big brains. Those two people will teach everybody far more than I ever can. So, get those two.

Laura: That’s amazing.

Kristen: Amazing.

Meahan: And then Barack Obama would be pretty good as well.

Kristen: Yes.

Meahan: I can’t help you though with that one. Yeah. Throw him in third though. Let the other two be the stars.

Laura: I love it, thank you so much for today. This has honestly been brilliant. I’ve loved it, thank you.

Kristen: Thank you.

Meahan: My pleasure. Thank you.

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