Kirsty Muddle co-founder and CIO for global advertising agency, Cummins&Partners is the latest to be featured in our ‘Juggle Thrive’ series.
Kirsty Muddle always knew that hard work and tenacity were going to be the key ingredients to a career which thrived and fulfilled her.
As a kid she was always on the go, looking out for the next opportunity and making things happen. “For some reason I wasn’t scared to make a mistake,” she says. “I could always zig and zag. I would always find a way to get something; offer my car washing services, explain something five different ways before someone believed me; I even learnt other languages to make sure I could communicate to kids in my class to play a game,” she tells us. “If I was lost, I would always find a way to get there and not give up.”
When she started her career in PR it was at a time when press releases were still sent by mail. Kirsty quickly learnt the art of pitching to the right audience, and the importance of quality story-telling. It wasn’t long before her job led to other exciting opportunities including a stint in Bahrain and London where her willingness to adapt, persevere and take risks was welcomed wholeheartedly by employers.
So, when entrepreneur Sean Cummins approached Kirsty with a bold business proposition to start their own advertising agency in 2011, she was more than prepared to jump in fearlessly.
“I was 30 at the time. I convinced the bank to give me money, leveraged the equity in the apartment I had bought just 3 years earlier and committed myself to building a business out of selling ideas,” she tells us.
Seven years on and Kirsty’s gamble has more than paid off. She’s now founding partner, and Chief Innovation Officer at Cummins&Partners– a world renowned, independent, full service agency based in Sydney, Melbourne and New York.
Alongside her partners, Kirsty has built a thriving business which continues to make impressive strides in a competitive market. The agency has worked with a number of high profile clients including Energy Australia, The AFL, Qantas, T2, Fiat and The Australian Red Cross. It’s also picked up a host of industry awards including Independent Agency of the Year and Pro Bono Campaign of the Year for CARE Australia’s campaign, ‘Package of Thanks’.
Kirsty believes the agency’s success lies partly in the diversity of skills and talent it fosters. “We have a good representation of multicultural Australia, people of every age and women are represented across the board from Partner, executive leaders to 54% of our entire talent base,” she says.
“If we choose to listen to each other, we are creating a wisdom that is unrivalled and a huge competitive advantage.”
Since the birth of her first child Matilda however, Kirsty has had to adapt more than ever before. The workload is immense, with days starting at 5:30am and finishing conclusively into the night. She admits that at one point the juggle affected her immunity and she had to make renewed efforts to get more sleep, avoid stress and eat properly. Stopping to spend time with her partner David, was also paramount. “Holding his hand unravels me from stress– I am lucky,” she says.
Kirsty humbly prefaces this experience by reiterating she only has one child (so far), and there are thousands of women doing it tougher than she. She also says she underestimated the scope of human kindness prior to having her daughter. Human empathy has made her journey into motherhood a far easier one to navigate.
“I found the world was much kinder than I had expected when I became a mother, and I choose to look at it that way now.”
“It was actually okay to breast feed in a meeting in someone else’s office, the oldest University in Australia (The University of Sydney) proactively said I could bring my baby to a weekend module so I could care, feed and settle her and importantly continue my study.”
Juggling career with social and family priorities isn’t always an easy balance to strike, but Kirsty believes the effort should always be made to clock off from work at a certain point and embrace loved ones.
She also makes time to run, meditate and, (on very rare occasions) shop. “I have always loved colour and putting clothes together,” she shares. “It’s not that I want to be anything to anyone, I just love expressing myself or controlling my moods with looks. I am unsure I will ever grow out of that.”
Ultimately, an impressive and enriching career is one important aspect of a rich life tapestry for Kirsty, but it is not everything. And she’s conscious never to let this become the case.
“I think you should not think about work all the time. That’s the trick,” she says. “We all know you can be with your loved ones but still thinking about work. Getting the balance is mental, not physical.”
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Read more in the ‘Juggle Thrive’ series: