After a lifetime in market research and 12 years at Ekas it’s time for me to say goodbye to both.
My father bought Ekas soon after I was a born, so you could say I have been raised with market research in my blood! As a child, I helped clean and set up new offices, stuffed incentive cheques and cash in envelopes for pocket money. In high school I did reception work in the afternoons and in university I started CATI interviewing, data entry and coding, whilst also doing hostessing and note taking for Sweeney Research.
I got my bachelor of business majoring in marketing and management. I have always been passionate about marketing, so that is where I thought I would land. But when my dad offered me a full time position at Ekas, to set up the panels and learn online research; I decided to give it a go, thinking it would be a stepping stone into the corporate world and that I would move into marketing in a couple of years. As it turned out I LOVED field research! The problem solving, variety and challenge was something I could really sink my teeth into.
By age 23 my dad was semi-retired and lucky to be working 1-2 days a week and our general manager was leaving. My dad offered me the position. The idea of becoming the manager of staff that had known me since I was a toddler was confronting; but I decided to give it a go, as not many people get such an opportunity like this to learn and grow, especially at my age. Boy did I learn a lot! It was a steep learning curve, but I had so much support and council from my dad, a business coach and Ross. This is where I found my true passion, business. I love how challenging and rewarding it can be to be at the helm of a business, bringing together all the different moving parts to achieve an overall strategy. Being responsible for other people’s livelihoods weighed on me greatly at times but was also the greatest privilege.
With international women’s day coming up and the theme of this month’s newsletter, I am reminded of just how lucky I am to have had the people around me that I do. I have 3 older brothers and no sisters. My parents have always treated me the same as my brothers. I never heard growing up that I could or couldn’t do something because I was a girl, gender was never in the equation. So I grew up without limitations and boundaries built into my psyche about what was possible for me as a woman, and I am so extremely grateful for that.
I remember whenever I told someone what my position at Ekas was, people would be surprised that I got it over my brothers, that my dad would trust me – a female and the youngest. I always brushed it off as I had my dad right there backing me, believing in me and giving me the confidence I have today to believe in myself and my abilities.
I will never forget my first AMSRO committee meeting where 99% of the owners around the table were male and over 40. I could feel my heart beating through my chest when I wanted to speak up on an issue as a young 23yr old female. Luckily I was used to being out of my comfort zone, running big daily staff meetings helped me realise that the fear I felt shouldn’t and wouldn’t stop me saying what I wanted (be it with a shaky awkward voice!)
Because of my dad’s beliefs and actions, which advances women, my brothers respect and believe the same. Matt worked at Ekas 10 years before I started and left soon after I joined. After I took over, I hired both Matt and Jaxon back into the business. I was their boss for many years and lots of people tried to give them stick about it, lots of ‘oh how does it go having your sister as your boss, that must be hard’ but they too don’t have male power issues or problems comprehending females in high positions so they always laughed it off, supported and had my back.
Motherhood was always high on my priory list in life, and I knew that I didn’t want to be working full time when my children were young, especially if I could afford not to. I treasured my upbringing of having my mum home with us as kids. Bringing my brothers into the fold really allowed me to take steps back in terms of the management of Ekas and be ready to take time off when I had my first child. I returned after a year off but only one and a half days a week managing the marketing, overseeing the panels, and running sales and directors meetings. Bringing all these newsletters and research blog pieces to life has been something I have wanted to do for so many years.
It has been the perfect balance of work and motherhood for me and I am lucky to have had my brothers support me in working out this balance. Something I know many women struggle to find and have opportunity to do so through motherhood.
During my year off I got more involved in my husband’s production company as I finally had time to do so. I was no longer drained from running Ekas that I couldn’t bare to dive into his! He really needed the support as the business was rapidly growing and I loved getting back into critical thinking and business strategy. I loved working with him so much that I kept doing so after I returned to Ekas. Like all the other males in my life, my husband values the skills I have built over the years and has given me so much responsibility and free reign to come in and be a true business partner. It’s the business side of things that I love mixed in with the marketing that I never quite got into. Beside the usual business management, creating and pitching advertising campaigns in order to win more work was an area my husband needed help with and turns out I am good at it!!
Now with my second child due any day, I had to make some choices about my future. I don’t want 2 jobs and 2 children, when my kids aren’t in day care and I want to be their primary care giver. So I bowed out of the take over from my dad and left it to my brothers. While Ekas will always have a spot in my heart it was time to team up with my husband and support each other in one business rather than us both running our own businesses and juggling the children.
This decision was made easier seeing how well both Matt and Jax get on with each other and have found their style of management over the past 2 years. They have found their groove and are doing so well. The thing I will miss most is seeing them every week and being so close, guess I will just have to come in for more lunch dates!
Thanks to everyone I have met along the way in the industry, you have been welcoming, inspiring and supportive.