Country Lead / Bumble Australia
Culture and values. Can they coexist in your life and career? A year ago I read an article about women taking charge. It was a delicious read and somewhat a love story about a new app allowing women to take control of their destiny.
That App was Bumble, a dating app, now a social network that helps you make empowering connections in love, life, and business. There is no denying that I am well and truly Bumble hooked, so when I found out that the app had launched in Australia, I made the “first move” and contacted Australia Lead, Michelle Battersby for an interview.
Truth be told, I politely stalked Michelle for ages. Not only is she smart, but she has a relentless vision for her career and the growth of Bumble. Naturally, I wanted to know all the goss, like how she landed this coveted job, what life is really like in the Bumble world, what 9 – 5 looks like, and of course what it’s like working for Whitney Wolfe Herd (Bumble Creator and CEO).
In this #careerstory Michelle takes us on the tour bus of her life. What subjects she chose at Uni, how she maneuvered her way through her career trajectory, and how she landed her job as the Australian Lead of Bumble.
Please meet Michelle…
Hi Michelle, we are such massive fans of the Bumble movement here at The Cool Career. Thank you for joining us today. Let’s start at the very beginning.
I grew up in Sydney on the Northern Beaches and still live in Manly today. I am the eldest of three girls and definitely took on a leadership (*really bossy) role when it came to my sisters. My parents both represented Australia in sport, that played a huge part in what I am like today in terms of drive and setting high standards for myself. I have always been really social, so whilst I never knew I’d end up here at the time, it makes a lot of sense I now work for a social networking app!
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Pymble Ladies College, loved that school. I only went for Year 11 and 12 as I moved around a lot for sport.
At the time, the move was really daunting and I was terrified. I think my parents could see that sport was the only thing motivating me and at the time. Pymble was where you needed to be if you wanted to play sport with the best.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Honestly, not at all. I was 17 when I finished school and I had no idea what I wanted to do, no idea what degrees to apply for – I went for a Bachelor of Arts because I felt it was broad enough for me to just do it and hopefully figure it out along the way.
Great idea. That is the exact advice that we give to girls studying Year 12. If you are unsure, study something board enough to give you a grasp on plenty of disciplines! Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I didn’t whilst I was in high school. For me I don’t think I would have had time and just focussed on school, sport and socialising (mainly socialising).
I also don’t think they would have benefited me as I had no idea what I wanted to do and would have 100% chosen something completely irrelevant.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
Yes, I went to Sydney University and completed a bachelor of Arts, I then went straight into a Masters of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations.
My dad helped me choose the Masters, I think he could tell that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so he had me do work experience in the HR department at his work. I really enjoyed it so enrolled in the Masters as soon as I finished my undergrad.
Go Dad! What a champion. Sounds like he gave sound advice. So, let’s dive into the present day. Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
I was really lucky to get into the industry placement program at USYD, they then placed me in an internship at Citibank. That lead to me gaining a full-time position after I got a little more experience under my belt. I worked at Citibank for about 2 years as an HR Generalist supporting the Institutional Banking side of the Business.
I was definitely lucky in my first couple of years I worked with some amazing people at Citi and at UBS (where I worked in between the internship and the full-time role at Citi). I learned how important it is to have a supportive team around you and the need to have someone close to you who wants you to succeed, I definitely felt that in those first couple of years.
After a while, I think it wasn’t really for me and I didn’t feel like I fitted in or wanted to follow any of the career paths I could see ahead of me. I was struggling to work out what I was meant to be doing so I chose to make a change from banking and went for a role at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC). The plan definitely wasn’t to leave as soon as I did however when the CEO of Bumble ask’s you to start it in Australia – you do it.
How did you get your job at Bumble?
I honestly want to say the “universe” but that isn’t tangible advice.
I was feeling lost, I had spent 5 years at Uni gone straight to work, loved it at first but then thought I don’t know if I can do this the rest of my life. I was thinking the exact words…
“I am capable of more than this, I know there is something else I should be doing but I don’t know what it is”.
As I started to doubt every decision I had ever made I told a friend of mine I was going to start a blog (laughable, I’d be terrible). That conversation leads to doors opening, which I think is the most important part. If you aren’t happy and know you’re not maximizing your own potential don’t keep doing what you’re doing, make a change.
Put the wheels in motion and opportunities will find their way to you, then you take them. That conversation for me lead to being referred to Whitney as a potential candidate to launch Bumble in Australia.
What is the hardest part of your role as Country Lead at Bumble?
Switching off. It’s not a pressure put on me by the business, it is self-imposed. I don’t know how to stop thinking about Bumble, but at the same time, it’s the best job in the world so I am not complaining.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you at Bumble?
There is at least one moment every day that’ll have us all cheering in the office about something we have done or seen relating to Bumble.
It’s very fast paced, always on, but I haven’t known Mondayitis since I started. Working for Bumble you never dread a Monday.
Day to day, I am on slack as soon as I wake up, it’s a great communication tool we leverage working across so many time zones. I find myself always on Slack to see what’s going on and what I need to catch up on.
Then it’s checking in with the team to see what’s going on, what they are working on, and how we can help one another.
We can go from painting our own office to moving 5000 units of Bumble merchandise to strategising, attending a chic event all within a day.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I hope my dad doesn’t see this but it is him. He taught me to always go after what you want.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
We have a lot of fun but it doesn’t come easily, you have to be willing to take yourself out of your comfort zone and dedicate a lot of your time.
You also need to make sure you are truly passionate about it. If you don’t genuinely believe in the brand you aren’t going to excel as much as someone who does believe it.
List the most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: I subscribe to the Skimm, It’s a US news site which is helpful working for a US based company to know what’s topical over there.
Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @Bumble_Australia
- Favourite Podcast: How I Built this – everyone should go listen to Whitney Wolfe Herd (our CEO and Founder) if they haven’t already.
- Favourite Netflix Series: I don’t really watch TV for work purposes as its the only time I do switch off so when I watch anything it’s always for downtime, I watched The Sinner in two days. I also love any of those basketball documentaries, Iverson and More than a Game.
- Favourite all time book/s: #GirlBoss
- People: Businesswomen I admire → Whitney Wolfe, Samantha Wills, Emily Weiss, Jackie Frank.
- Others: My manager is based in the UK and is the International Brand Director. Her trust in me is paramount to everything the team and I have been able to achieve in Aus. I think it’s really important to have an ally you have open communication lines with, especially in a fast-moving startup!