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On today’s podcast I have another marketing gun. Our guest today, Cheryl Mack, is only in her mid- 20s and is currently the product manager of events at Freelancer. If you’re interested in knowing the secrets to how you rapidly advance your career, get into working for fun and funky start ups and land an international job then there is a lot in store for you in today’s podcast. From Uni days through working for numerous start ups and tech businesses, Cheryl has proven herself to be an extremely high performer and she has an incredible amount of wisdom to share on how she fast tracked her career and landed the awesome role she has today.

Kylie
My guest today, Cheryl Mack, is a passionate marketer and a shining example of what’s possible when you sit in the driver’s seat of your own career. In a relatively short career, she’s gone from promotions to working with some of the world’s most innovative start-ups crossing the globe and is now the Events Product Manager at Freelancer, working in a really dynamic position.

Cheryl
Just a brief intro to who I am and how I got here, I grew up in Canada and moved in Australia a year ago and I’m running StartCon, which is Australia’s largest StartUp Conference, under the Freelancer umbrella. So that’s what I’m doing and I’m loving it here in Sydney.

Kylie
For all our listeners, I had the opportunity to meet Cheryl one of those events and was incredibly impressed with her presentation skills. I’d love to understand about your journey, starting from early on.

Cheryl
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, I was the typical lemonade stand kid – always trying to make so money and do something with my spare time. There are 4 major points in my career where I have to make big decisions. The first one is important because I’m sure there are younger girls that are going through this and thinking ahead in their careers. I was lucky to have entrepreneurial parents that definitely shaped my life and who I am and they always encourage me to do the things I want.

Kylie
When you start with that limitless thinking, you’re off to a really good start. I’m not surprised that you had great influences early on.

Cheryl
If you don’t have parents like that, that doesn’t mean if you can’t have that outlook from the beginning – that doesn’t mean that you cannot adapt that thinking as well. So my first big decision and challenge was in high school – you’re looking at things like what do I do, so early on in your life. Do I go to a university, do I go to college, do I do an apprenticeship, or start working? In my case I chose university and there comes the question like where do I go? I made my decision and went to UBC. I worked my butt off to get the grades that I needed. One of my happiest moments was when I got into the program that I wanted at the school that I wanted. My next one is picking a major, I had to choose what path in I wanted to take. It’s very similar to the decision in high school but you’re kinda following that path that you’re mapping out for yourself at the same time still finding out who you are. So I think one of the biggest reasons why I kind of found my path in university was that I got involved – gaining experience in some way.

So I got involved pretty heavily. I immediately joined a committee – the people that run all the events in the business school. I found that the social aspect of one of the clubs that I joined was the one I cared about. I learned that I love talking to people, running events and I love making sure that everyone in our business school was happy and involved and they are loving their experience. So my third major career decision was what to do after school. The hot job when I graduated was being a Brand Manager so I went for an interview for all these Brand Manager positions. I got into the final interview and realized that this is not what I want. That was a huge decision for me as there was a lot of pressure for this “hot job”.

Kylie
That’s a fantastic lesson to learn early on - to not make ego-based decisions. A lot of people take on roles for the wrong reasons.

Cheryl
I think money also has an impact there. Getting your first pay check in general is a huge step. Further to that, I went back to being entrepreneurial. I love the tech scene. I sought out some of the Start-ups in Vancouver and I applied to those positions and I went to work for them to help them build something that mattered. I think Start-ups made sense to me because I can make a huge impact. I started working for a smaller company – I helped them in their marketing, building their customer base. I worked for 3 to 6 months then moved to another company. That brings me to my fourth biggest career challenge and that is sticking to my path. There are a lot of things that come up when sticking to your path – like fears – like am I going to succeed on this path?

Kylie
Any advice you’d give on facing those fears? How did you personally found the courage to push through and stick to your path?

Cheryl
I think it’s about not being afraid to take a leap of faith but at the same time testing your ideas and theories. There are a couple of things I’ve learned from my path so far and that is to test your ideas and at the same time don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith and jump in. Another thing I’ve learned is that if you have to work hard for the things you want and tell others. The more you share what you’re doing, it keeps you accountable but it also opens up opportunities. So in the process of helping these start-ups grow, I got headhunted by this larger company and I ended up being the Sales and Marketing manager. Another thing that happened in that same time period was that a friend of a friend who knew what I was doing thought I would be the perfect person – they reached out to me and offered if I wanted to startup the Vancouver chapter – and that perfectly fits what I want. So those two came out of working hard and being very open and connecting with people.

Kylie
When you talk about it and are really open, those opportunities just arise – you’re the living proof of that.

Cheryl
The third thing that I learned was not to be too caught up with what other people think. You can’t be too concerned – be yourself, by yourself and try not to get too caught up.

Kylie
Did you have mentors or sponsors?

Cheryl
I’m lucky enough to have met some amazing people and has significant conversations with them through the jobs that I had. I’ve learned a lot. They changed the way that I thought and those are the people I look up to and other people that have influenced my life were my professors in the university. I’ve gone back to them a couple of years later and had them recommend me for a job.

You have to do what’s right for you. Keeping up to date with certain people was really valuable for me.

Kylie
What would you say are you’re biggest challenges to date?

Cheryl
Like I said those four that I went through. The next biggest one here is going international. So obviously I’m in Australia now and I think what drove me to that one is sticking to your path. Moving to Australia was a big leap of faith for me but I did it. I knew that I needed this international experience but I also evaluated where I was in my life. I think I was ready for a new challenge, I didn’t also have huge barriers – no kids, no mortgage, no car at that point – for me it felt like the right time.

Kylie
Any tips for our listeners on how you get a job with a Start-up? What are the progressive employers are looking for?

Cheryl
One of the bigger things that really matters to these tech companies is culture fit. It’s not much about you, it’s about them. Look for the ones that have culture fit that matches yours. Then it comes down to values – what is the company doing and do you believe in the vision and the values? Is the company trying to change lives? Are they trying to go global? It needs to be something that you believe in as well. You need to find companies that you actually believe in the vision in order for them to feel that you’re going to be the best fit. You also need to have a sense of being able to jump in. You have to be the kind of person who doesn’t shy away from challenge and can demonstrate that you can step up to things, go with the punches and really be a team player both in good and bad situations. Those are the kinds of people that really excel in Start-up companies.

Kylie
It’s like a psych test – there’s no right or wrong when it comes to culture fit, it just is, or isn’t. So what’s next for you Cheryl? What are your plans or do you have a plan for the next 3, 5, 10 years?

Cheryl
I think when I made the decision to move to Australia, I did map out a little bit. One of the things I could recommend is to have a general outline of what you want out of the experience. You need to think where you’re gonna live, and goals while you’re here. One of goals is to travel a bit while I’m here. But these are general plans and plans can change. But having a general outline is great but you also need to be open to continuing your career path in different ways.

Kylie
Have you managed to see much of Australia?

Cheryl
I think that I’ve seen more of Australia than the majority of Australians.

Kylie
Is there anything more you’d like to leave with our listeners?

Cheryl
There are three things that I can recommend. First is know yourself and know in what environment you’re most likely to succeed. The second one is know your story – know your path and goal. The third thing is to take the time to evaluate your situation and yourself regularly. Further to this, be open to meeting people, ask them, “what’s your story?”, get to know them.

Kylie
I love that. That’s really unique advice.

Cheryl
A lot of people are just exhausted by working hard, you just have to remember what is it you want to contribute and gain from each job.

Kylie
Thank you, Cheryl. In terms of where people can find you – we’ll link to your LinkedIn so people can connect with you. Anywhere else you’d like them to find you?

Cheryl
LinkedIn is fine. I tried to answer all the questions in LinkedIn. I’m open to meeting new people all the time. I prefer LinkedIn. https://au.linkedin.com/in/cherylmack My Twitter is @CMack4life.