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What an amazing night with so much career inspo flowing! If you missed out on tickets to the sold-out event, here’s a re-cap with some of the juicy career insights from our panel of speakers.

We had an epic line up, including:

  • Jessica Grubiša who always knew she was going to work in fashion. She started out as an assistant fashion editor at Black Magazine, she was a freelance stylist and worked in production. From there she co-founded fashion label HARMAN GRUBIŠA.
  • Madeleine Harman worked in a trend forecasting company after studying, and she worked overseas as well as with a local designer, before teaming up with Jessica to create their vision,HARMAN GRUBIŠA.
  • Lisa King had a goal to become a CFO. She spent 15 years working for fast moving consumer goods companies, marketing food. But she got to a point where she wasn’t feeling it anymore. So she quit her job and started Eat My Lunch, a social business where you can buy a lunch for yourself to be delivered, and it buys a lunch for a child in need at school. Her business has just turned two and they’ve provided half a million lunches to kids in 48 schools, in Auckland and Wellington.
  • Gracie Taylor was a farm girl who planned on being an Equestrian Olympian but it didn’t work out. She always loved the creative industry so went into journalism instead. She’s worked as a TV presenter, producer, hosted her own radio show and now works as a reporter for NZME.

Here’s what they had to say about their careers and how they’ve made it. #Goals.

What tactics have helped you get you to where you are today?

M: “I think work ethic is really huge. Jess and I have only just come off 7 days a week and we’re three years in. It’s tiring, you have to sacrifice a lot for what you want. We still take out the trash, we still clean our office, there’s no job too big or too small and that’s because you want it to work so you have to do the work. Also, no ego. No one is more important than anyone else.”

L: “Being able to see possibilities. I’m a strong believer there are two types of people in this world. One sees that anything is possible. There are 25,000 kids a day in New Zealand that don’t get fed. And as one person, you sort of think there’s nothing I can do. So it’s about seeing what’s actually possible and working towards making it happen. And then there’s other people who tell you why it can’t happen, what the barriers are, or all the risks. The bank manager we went to initially told us it was a really stupid idea and it would never work. So we changed banks.
The other thing I always go back to is courage. It takes so much courage to start your own business, step away from what you know, to not do what others expect of you and to risk it all. You never know how or what’s going to happen. If I don’t do it now, I’ll never know. And I don’t ever want to have that regret.”

G: “Always get there early. I always get to work 20 mins before I should be there and about 20 minutes after I should. I don’t take lunch breaks. What I would recommend is you always have to be kind. I don’t like the word nice, I think kind is a much better word. Everybody’s always got something going on, either in their personal life or work life. So just be kind. Also pick your fights. You need to know when to pipe up and when to shut the f up.”

What powers you to keep going?

J: “When you’re two attractive women who are young and fearless, you’re going to get older assholes who patronize you at every step along the way. Even when you’re paying them to do a service. But if you don’t acknowledge, like a child having a tantrum, it doesn’t exist and it has no power in your life. You just side swipe that. You get the service done and you move forward. Don’t give it the power.”

L: “It’s very different in a corporate world I think as a young woman. Because there’s a very clear linear path to climb, for me I’ve always found it quite difficult that people assume I’m younger than I am. I’d go to a board meeting and I’d prepared the whole presentation and they would only talk to my male boss and ask him questions. It always really upset me. People still assumed the same thing when I started Eat My Lunch. People can’t believe that I’m the one who runs the business and came up with the idea. And I’ve actually come to quite enjoy it. People underestimate me and I can use that to my advantage. So I think it’s just accepting it sometimes and trying to make the best of the situation.”

How do you create opportunities for yourself?

J: “When I was at university I took every opportunity, even if it was something I didn’t really want to do. I thought knowledge was power so if I knew everything, I’ll know if I really want to do this and you’ve really got to make connections. Fashion is what you know but it’s also who you know. Don’t say no to anything, at Uni. You might be busy on your collection but you can get up early and take that opportunity.”

M: “Always take the meeting. Even if naturally you think something might not be a good fit you never know down the line where that might lead to so you always take the meeting.”

G: “Work hard, play hard. Go to parties. Choose your parties so you can meet people but know when to go home. Then the next day I’ll message people saying hey, tell me more about that project. If you have a connection with them, go on a girl date, get to know them more. It honestly makes such a difference and it’s really memorable. If you’re a good person, then you’ll attract good people.”

Thinking back to when you are university, are you where you thought you’d be now?

J: “Yea, I’m exactly where I thought I’d be. Other than little differences. I was the person at 16 that was like, ‘I’m going to have a label’ and my measure of success was that one day I’ll walk down the street and see someone with a fake one of my bags, and then I’ll know. So I firmly believe Madeleine and myself are doing what we were born to do.”

G: “I’m never comfortable, I’m always hungry for more. So I don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied. I’ve really liked what I’ve done so far, but I’m not like ‘yea I’m the best’ I’m always wanting more. I’m nearly 26, and I feel like I’m at a prime time in my life, but there’s a lot more coming. I’m never comfortable, that’s the thing – don’t be comfy. Always be hungry. Always be learning and a little scared.”

L: “I always thought my worth was based on what people were willing to pay me and my time. That’s kind of what I went after, when I left school. Then on the other side I was always doing volunteer work. And I never thought you could make money doing charity work, or doing good, it was kind of one or the other. That’s how the world has been. But to actually merge those two things together, making a really positive difference and impacting people’s lives, for me is the dream job. I didn’t think I’d get to this point, so it’s been a really nice and life changing surprising.”

What do you think women in the workforce need to be doing more of, in order to get ahead?

J: “I’m a firm believer in loving yourself. Because we’re in the business of dressing women, you see women’s insecurities in the changing room all the time, and so I just think we’re conditioned to always see what’s wrong with ourselves. And you meet these women who are completely fearless and are like ‘yea I’m powerful, I’m attractive’, they know their worth, and there’s a difference. Love yourself and different things happen.”

M: “I apologise a lot for different stuff all the time. And I don’t hurt anyone. So why am I apologising? We need to challenge the way things are. We have to do this in our business all the time. We need to challenge the norms that keep you in one place. So I would say challenge things. If you feel like you’re born to do something and society doesn’t do it that way, just don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t.”

G: “In the workspace I’m in, there’s not many females and it’s quite competitive. So you want to be the best, but you also want to embrace other girls that are around you. You’re not above anyone else, you’re a team. It shouldn’t be boys against girls, you’re all equal. But if you want to keep working you’re way up the ladder you’ve gotta trust your own instincts, always be kind to everybody but don’t give in. But definitely big ups to girls.”

L: “Interestingly in my corporate career, my worst managers were females. Particularly when I had kids and I wanted to do part time work, because they didn’t get treated well in their careers when they were managing other women they gave that treatment back. I found that really interesting. The men were much more understanding. We always tend to feel like we have to be 100% ready, you have to the best to take that next step up or to take that next promotion or apply for a job, you have to tick ten out of ten boxes. But for guys, they’ll just go do it. I read a quote recently that said ‘The problem is ‘we think we all have time’ and I really got on this path of urgency and not worrying about the fact that it’s only 80% perfect.”

For more, check out the Livestream of the event over on Miss FQ’s Facebook page!

Thank you so much to everyone who came and a massive thank you to my friends who helped on the night – Rachel Hooker, Jo James, Lauren Watling and Jane King. You gals are the best x

Laura is the Founder & Editor of The Workher. She is an award winning Public Relations professional, who loves blogging about surviving and thriving in the workplace as a young woman.

1 comment on “Careers Chat with WITH HARMAN GRUBIŠA, GRACIE TAYLOR & LISA KING – Wrap Up”

  1. Laura, I just want to say I so admire you for hosting these events and not only that, they look wildly successful! I’m sure they’re super valuable for all the #Workher followers that attend to gain advice from these inspiring women!

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