Madeleine Grummet likes to connect the dots, and wears many hats in the process.
A creative, serial entrepreneur, journalist, innovator and mother of four girls, she’s bringing it all together as the co-founder and CEO of girledworld in a bid to change the future of work one girl at a time.
Her energy and passion for change is seriously infectious. Indeed, upon being asked to answer some question for Women’s Agenda, she smashed out a 1500+ word epic response in the early hours of the very next morning.
But Madeleine needs to move fast in order to see her startup girledworld reaching as many girls as possible.
The sad reality is that a rise in the number of women in boardrooms, in political office, funded startups and corporate leadership positions, is just not happening fast enough.
And, of course, the future is coming along with a new range of skills required to be able to successfully make the most of it.
That’s what girledworld aims to address, with a mission to get more girls into the pipeline early by giving them the skillsets, mindsets and techsets needed to prepare to create startups, become leaders and STEM doers.
“Girls can’t be what they can’t see,” she says. “We need more women, and the girls after them, standing up, stepping up and starting up the startups that will create the new economy, policy and jobs of Australia’s future.”
In the leadup to girledworld’s massive girledworld WOW Summit in Melbourne this weekend, Grummet is the latest to answer our Q&A series as part of The Link, connecting you to the interesting ideas, work and inspiration of different women.
Her responses offer excellent wisdom and straight-up truths about some of the ridiculous ways we’re working and how and why we can do better.
What are you working on right now that’s got you really excited?
We’re building a global role models and World of Work platform for girls to give them access to the stories, pith, wisdom and skills they’ll need to lead and succeed in their future careers.
Our industrial-age education model is not moving fast enough to equip girls with these real-world skills, and recent ABS stats show a continued decline in the teenage labour market, so if they’re not out there building skills in the rapidly changing world of work, how are they going to get them?
The world is shifting. Technology, automation and digital are opening out whole new value chains, efficiencies and marketplaces and as a result the traditional workforce is disrupting rapidly.
What we do know is that the next Gen will have up to 17 jobs across 5 different careers, which means we’re going to see a nation of portfolio freelancers competing in a fractured and hyper-competitive global marketplace where transferrable 21st century skills will be the valuable hiring and trading currency. Jobs for life will be gone.
Disruption is not a new thing.
The world has been radically reinventing itself and its trading economies for eons. But what we do need to do is not sit back and let it happen.
We need to crack open the economy, and drive more innovation and business opportunities in Australia so we can compete globally.
he disruption economy will force old companies to be accountable and transparent, to redefine how and why they exist for their customers, and they will ultimately have to work harder to attract purpose-driven employees who will drive their value, and therefore ensure their survival.
What one issue is making you really angry right now?
Truth be told, I’m totally over the-all-talk-no-action-tokenistic-vote-winning rhetoric about diversity and inclusion that kicks around the corporate culture camps. The gender gap is real. The STEMder gap is gaping. The gender super gap is appalling. So let’s just land the facts, acknowledge that the world needs to grow up, get over the BS and Barnaby stuff and boardroom sound bites and actually change stuff.
Engendered systemic, social, economic and political bias is holding us all back.
Businesses that don’t drive change, shift policy, adopt new hiring practice and recognise that diversity actually fuels innovation, will be left behind. No sympathy.
We need to turn the diversity dial.
But we keep seeing inertia, inaction, incompetence. I’m pretty over pale male stale men (and some women) in middle management calcifying status quo in corporate Australia. Their old ways and fear-based waterfall power structures prevent new ways of work, create toxic cultures and hold companies back from the innovation and change they really need to implement to survive in a new age. They’re not up for flexible work (they’re rigid, in all the wrong places).
If we really want to move to new ways of work then let’s get over the whole office and waterfall and 9-5 hours spinning wheels thing. It’s so yesterday. Do work that moves fast, creates value and actually carries your customers with you.
I say this because I get to see inside the spaces and think tanks of some of the most agile businesses in the world. They don’t work the way most people do, and it’s why they get shit done and stay ahead. This is not about clock on clock off cascade of hierarchy. This is about throwing out the BS rules and getting good work done how and when you want. If you’re invested enough in the work you’re doing, you’ll do the best work of your life, whether it’s in a co-work space, the car on the side of the road, or in your ripped pyjamas. The thing is, the 8-hour day is a hangover from times gone by. We can work shorter and so much smarter than that. It’s the time versus opportunity cost you need to weigh up.
As Seth Godin so rightly said: “You can’t save up time. You can’t refuse to spend it. You can’t set it aside. Either you’re spending your time. Or your time is spending you.”
Best piece of career advice you ever received?
Don’t ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness later. I heard this from Sally Ann Williams, engineering community and outreach manager at Google HQ in Silicon Valley, on a recent innovation trip there. The people who change the world, even in small ways, are the ones who dare to try. Starting is the hardest part. Once you do, don’t look sideways.
What would you go back and tell yourself ten years ago?
How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives. Do what matters. Don’t wait. Hack it out along the way. Even with all those babies at your breast, keep going. You’ll all going up the mountain together.
Biggest hurdle you’ve faced (or are still facing) in your career?
Not enough hours in the day! Triaging opportunities. Wanting to have it all. Like now. What I do know is that big things take a million small steps, and that whilst we can’t have it all at once, what we do have, if we stop to notice it, is quite often more than enough. It’s all relative. And it’s not a race. Be human, be humble, be hilarious, and keep yourself open to the sometimes serendipity that swings into our spheres.
How did/are you push through/work around it?
I have a number of life/CEO/Mum hacks. I live by the one life – use it mantra. It means you work out pretty quickly what matters and what doesn’t. My go to is the tribe of mentors who have a well of hard-earned business, wise counsel and life acumen I draw from. Use the village.
How have mentors or sponsors aided your career?
I think we all need a pot of wisdom to draw from. It doesn’t have to be people in your real life necessarily (although in the real is always the best).
But I do think you need to find your tribe. People who get you, who back you, who are willing to let you think big and do big, and not box you in because the legacy of that relationship means they can’t cope with you rising. Might sound odd, but I see so many women face this problem: great success, only to have those around them feel threatened by it so they feign indifference/tune out/switch off. It’s a tall poppy thing.
I think there is no point turning your lights down so others feel brighter around you.
I’m all for turning up the dial, pushing the bounds of what’s possible, even when you have no idea where the end destination is. We have lots of interns and young women we hire in to work with us who don’t have it all sorted, but what we know is that reverse mentorship is where the greatest transference happens, and that careers are never lateral. So you’re going to need a lot of peeps from all walks along the way. Use the village. If you want to go fast (and get really tired), go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
What’s your favourite piece of tech?
AI. Even though I reckon we need to sort out who’s in charge. We talk about Singularity, but who runs the world? Humans do.
What daily publications do you read or follow?
Twitter, Linkedin news, Women’s Agenda!, newspapers online (headline glancing). I’m also blog-mad, pod-mad and hoard books like chocolates. I’m interested in deeply human stuff.
What matters? Extraordinary wisdom, tapping the deep seams of rich and complex human life, bringing the tough stories into the light. As the days and year tick, I see so many women around me carrying the burden of care for families, aging parents, kids skidding sideways, and there is no currently no currency for that care.
What apps or tools do you use to help manage your day?
Can’t live without Trello, notes on my iPhone, Google Drive, and a plain old scratched up blackboard in the family kitchen. I also run a paper Daily Planner #totalluddite but makes me feel like a total boss when I cross off all the task’s by day’s end!
What book do you most recommend to other women when it comes to their career?
Homo Sapiens, to give big perspective on where the world’s going but also how deeply primitive we are, and The Wife Drought, because Annabell Crabb is where it’s at and a good reality check.
And what are you reading/watching/listening to right now (for work or pleasure)?
Reading: + clutching to heart the Book of Haikus by Jack Kerouac (purchased from the den of Beat, City Lights Book Store in San Francisco last month)
Watching: Not much, but did gorge on Big Little Lies. Dark humanity and spell-binding female-driven narratives.
Listening: Listening to Holly Ransom’s Coffee Pods.
Where can people find out more about your work? (social media etc?)
Insta: @girledworld @madeleinegrummet
Twitter: @girledworld @madsgrummet
Got a woman to suggest who you’d like to next read about on Women’s Agenda?
Yep. Aubrey Blanche. (Atlassian Global Head of Diversity + Belonging)