Not for Profit Founder + CEO / Pink Hope
At age 25, Krystal Barter was told she carried the BRCA gene mutation. A breast cancer gene that has been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
After the diagnosis Krystal underwent a preventative double mastectomy to break the cycle of cancer. Krystal then at age 31 took the next step in her risk reduction plan and had her fallopian tubes, and one ovary removed to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Now… this may not be the intro that you are used to, but it’s a fierce #careerstory none the less.
It’s a tale in resilience, of stories that don’t go to plan, and one woman’s fight to ensure that girls all over the world can assess, manage and reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, while providing personalised support to at-risk women.
At the end of the day, if your mission is greater than your fear, then you not only have a career, but you have a legacy and I am elated to take you through the #careerstory and purpose of this queen.
Please meet Krystal.
Hey you gorgeous Krystal. I am so excited that you are here. Let’s start at the beginning….
I grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and had, for all instances, what every child would want – a safe, loving home and hardworking parents. However, there were always health issues. I was around 14 when my mum was told she had breast cancer. That news is devastating for any family, but for mine, it brought legitimate fear that history was repeating its self.
My grandma was 44 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my great grandma was 68. So, to say my career was shaped by my experiences is right. I was faced with my own risk of cancer and felt, as a young mum, really alone and frightened.
It was in my hospital bed at 25, while I just had my breasts preventatively removed, that I decided to create something for other people like me so they had support and information to be in control of their risk.
Krystal, your story. Wow! A true example of happens when life sometimes doesn’t go to plan. So where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to high school at Stella Maris in Manly. I wasn’t the most well-behaved teenager, to put it mildly. I really struggled to find myself for a long time, but I always did well academically and I did love my school. They really helped me navigate the complexities around my family’s health issues.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
My school and teachers were always really supportive. After finishing school, I truly didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was accepted into university to do a teaching degree, but only lasted 6 weeks. My further education wasn’t what I planned or what my parents had hoped for. I became quite lost for a few years- unsure of what I wanted to do or who I was.
I just partied and didn’t really focus on my future (because, with the cancer my family was ravaged with, I really felt like I didn’t have one). This changed when I met an amazing man (who is now my husband and we have 3 children) who truly saved me. He gave me purpose and centred me. He is such a caring and compassionate person and for that, I am very lucky.
My further education came when I started Pink Hope. The learning on the job was exactly what I needed. I was thrown in the deep end and had to learn to swim by myself (with the support of my wonderful family).
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I just did your standard high school work experience. And has experience there after in real estate and recruitment.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
I had my first baby when I was 21. This meant I was juggling being a very young mum, so any career aspirations came second. I felt like I finally found something I was really good at -being a mum. It wasn’t until I had my 2nd child at 23, that I started thinking about what I wanted to do and I knew it would involve cancer prevention. This led me to create Pink Hope – Australia’s only preventative breast and ovarian health organisation. It gave my time and energy purpose. There is nothing more fulfilling that working for something you know benefits others. It makes getting up every day so much easier and worthwhile.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
It was through my own personal experiences of cancer that I was able to create a vision and mission: To empower every person to know their risk and change their future. I worked for about 3 years earning next to nothing. My husband was an apprentice and we had 3 children. It was really challenging. No holidays, no nice things, no time off- but I knew it was so needed and I persevered. Being an entrepreneur has this cool factor attached to it but far out- It takes dedication, passion and determination! Often working for the cause and not the applause. Of course, amazing things have happened along the way but outside of those “wow” moments, its grit, late nights, emailing every moment of the day and focusing.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Everyday has its challenges but the hardest part is for me to be a good mum and wife while succeeding in my job. That is an everyday challenge.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
A typical day involves a morning chat with my team to see what’s on for the day, checking my diary, emails, emails and more emails. I always have multiple calls (some scheduled, some not.) deal with client management, PR and marketing idea generation, following up on opportunities, media interviews, dealing with accounts, reviewing any board queries, governance, work on proposals and documents, check up on digital and design team, answering Q and A’s for media articles…. And that’s just before lunch!
Hahaha, what a crazy day in the life. So, who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I have lots of famous heroes, from Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, Jane Austen, Princess Diana…. But I look a little closer to home- My grandmas. They have been through so much in their own lives (from cancer to nursing a husband with early onset Parkinson’s). They have shown such selflessness and are my greatest inspiration. When my Nan Val died, she didn’t tell me she was so sick – because she didn’t want me to miss out on my ovarian preventative surgery. I got to say goodbye to her just out of my surgery. That was one of the hardest things I had to do. I wanted to be with her, but she insisted I didn’t need to know.
She told me, “knowing that her only granddaughter had become hopefully the first woman in our family to beat the cancer curse, made her happy.”
She died 48 hours later. Selfless to the end.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
You can have degrees and high marks and everything that we are told is important, but you equally need life experiences, empathy and an understanding that you will start at the bottom and work your way up. It’s hard work to achieve what you dream of.
Not for profit is a changing area and you need to be innovative in your approach to the work, but if you are passionate about the issues, then it doesn’t feel like work. I would say that sometimes the path we set out on in life, leads us to unexpected destinations. If you had told me in high school – I would be a young mum, married and running my own not for profit- I would have laughed. It goes to show that sometimes life has other plans.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession!
I am inspired by people and their stories of facing adversity. I am honestly so busy with 3 kids and my role that sometimes this area “podcasts etc” is well down on the list for me.
- Favourite Websites: Well and Good for health content, Forbes etc.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: Love Elle Ferguson for her fashion, love Glossier for brand vibes, Oprah and Reese Witherspoon for generalised inspo.
- Favourite Podcast:TED Talks
- Favourite Netflix Series: Gosh how do I pick one. Outlander, Stranger things, House of Cards, Jessica Jones, The Crown
- Favourite all time book/s: How to Kill a Mockingbird, so sad but Twilight, and I love a good memoir Anthony Kiedis from the Chilli Peppers, Elon Musk.