Why leaving my corporate marketing manager job was the best decision I’ve ever made
Kate McCormack gave up her corporate marketing job to start her consulting business, not yet realising she was part of a national trend of women turning their backs on inflexible workplaces. She hasn’t looked back.
As I sat down at my desk, having been tempted once again by the lure of the corporate world and, let’s be honest, regular income, I realised very quickly that no amount of good coffee and great people around me was going to make me happy in this space.
Yes, there is no doubt that juggling child care, nannies, running a house with three very small children, including twins, was exhausting. But it wasn’t just about that – I could do all of that if I was passionate about my work – all of the exhaustion would be worth it. There was so much more to it than that. I knew I could give so much more to people than I ever could as one of the many voices trying to stand out in a sea of egos trying to be heard.
I did my MBA knowing that one day soon I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to genuinely help people build real success by sharing with them my passion around marketing and business strategy (yes, seriously) and my experience.
But I had let that little bugger called fear takeover and here I was, back where I didn’t want to be.
Now I just had to get through a full day of meetings, negotiations, calming panicked voices, and nothing but reactive thinking. I felt like I had had just moments away from the workplace to have my children and yet time had stopped when it came to my career. What was I doing?!
At this moment I had a sudden vision of an alternate reality. My vision was me happily working from home, working with clients who I loved and who were thriving based on my input. In my daydream I was there for my children when they finished school. I was calm. I wasn’t running on empty.
Having worked in corporate marketing roles, for large retailers and big brands, for 18 years I had also become aware of a few truths that I saw in the workplaces I’d been at.
From inflexible work arrangements, lack of appropriate child care, the expectation of the role men must play in the family unit, the ever present boys club, and just the lack of understanding of the demands of being a mother are all certainly factors.
Also, in 2013 women were paid 17.4% less than men in the same field. Unfortunately, the fantastic qualities we as women bring to the workforce are not always embraced, where still in this day and age the more masculine is applauded and rewarded.
Corporates are haemorrhaging smart, educated and savvy women while increasingly it is being found that increases in the diversity of the workplace adds financial benefits. Catalyst studies reveal companies in the highest percentile of women on their boards outperformed those in the lowest percentile by 53% higher return on equity and a 42% higher return on sales.
When I finally took the leap into the unknown and uncertain world of entrepreneurship I didn’t realise I was part of a growing national trend. Although somehow, I knew I felt supported. And I was. Australian women are starting small businesses at twice the rate of men and last year it was reported that Australia is the second best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur
This phenomena is spanning generations and I increasingly work with Gen Y-ers. They are frustrated with being paid less and not having enough flexibility to pursue other life goals. They are also excited about the many opportunities out there for them and aren’t chained to the idea of having to go down the corporate route.
So, to cut a long story short, I took the leap. I swapped suits for slacks and corporate lunches for coffee shop meet-ups with other entrepreneurs (although I’d be lying if said I didn’t miss the corporate entertainment!).
I loved it. I worked hard (that corporate background comes in useful) and I managed to match my corporate salary within five months of focusing solely on the business and working only 20 hours a week.
I work when I want to and when I can, with who I want and I don’t compromise any more. Best of all I have more time to spend with my little family.
This is the age of choice for women and I believe a new era of women’s liberation.
My generation and the next are gutsy and we’re taking control. Corporations will have to drag themselves into the 21st Century if they want retain talent.