Need a little bit of boss-spiration? Michelle Battersby is your lady.
She’s the young gun behind Bumble Down Under, overseeing the launch of the hugely popular (and proudly feminist) dating app as well as their BFF and Bizz platforms, which help Aussie women make mates and further their career.
And her back story is pretty bloody motivating.
She started out in corporate banking as a Human Resources Specialist (with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in sociology and management, and a Masters in HR and industrial relations) and despite excelling in the field, she discovered she wasn’t passionate about it. (Hands up if you relate). Enter Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, who approached Michelle through a friend and offered her the job as Bumble’s Country Lead. Michelle quit her job the very same day and she’s been flat out taking the company from strength to strength, ever since.
We spoke to the definition of #careergoals about her management style, what she looks for in an employee and how she switches off.
What sets Bumble apart? Why is it so important for women who are interested in online dating?
On Bumble women make the first move. We are have transformed from a dating app into something much more – we are now a social networking app empowering women to make the first move in dating (Bumble Date), friend finding (Bumble BFF) and business networking (Bumble Bizz). We are the first app of this kind, where opportunities for romantic, platonic and professional connections are available in one place through three different modes – this is our major differentiator, alongside our unique mission and values.
You’ve worked in industries that are traditionally male dominated, how did you find it and what advice would you give to other women in the same position?
Of course there were times when I felt intimidated, but that is natural when you are a young person in a very corporate environment. For me I was very fortunate to work in large global firms that had gender equality at the top of the agenda. For those that aren’t in that position, one piece of advice when you feel intimidated is that those are the times when you need to back yourself more than ever. It helps to try to humanise the person you find intimidating – even though they might seem totally different to you, it is not impossible to find common ground. They are probably a dad, or a brother or something else you can relate to. Finding this kind of common ground is how I built a lot of great relationships. In addition to this, have confidence in delivering key messages clearly in those situations – your results will speak for themselves.
With your work in HR and now with Bumble you have a massive amount of experience with managing a team. What would be your advice for women stepping up into a management position, are there any dos and don’ts?
I think my key management style is leading by example. There’s only five people that work at Bumble in Australia. We have a really small team, and that means that everyone’s really got to do a bit of everything. We don’t have the luxury of multiple departments and getting support from all different kinds of people and different skillsets, so everyone kind of pulling their own weight and equal weight.
But also I think because I kind of stepped into this role quite young, I always make sure that I’m listening to absolutely everyone in the team, be that an intern or the most senior person. I just think treating everyone equally and with respect, some of the best ideas can come from the person with the least experience.
Obviously that translates a lot into what you would say makes a good employee, but what else are you on the lookout for if you’re ever looking to hire?
I think it’s just being willing to go above and beyond, to do things that are outside of your job scope, to not just see your role as kind of one thing and putting yourself in that box. I think just always being open to picking up new tasks and different tasks that you might not do every day, that definitely shines a positive light on you but also helps you continue to develop as an employee.
We’ve seen a lot of employers shafting millennial workers, saying they don’t have work ethic and that kind of thing. Do you think you’d agree with that?
I think that it can be hard. It is hard to find good people. It’s also challenging when you work in an environment like mine. We get to attend amazing events and quite high profile things, and I feel with Instagram and things like that it can often look very glamorous a lot of the time, but the reality is that’s a small part of the job.
So I just think it’s making sure that you’re applying for roles that you really understand, that you’re not just looking at the glitz and glam and ready to work hard to have, I guess, a privilege of attending those kind of things.
However, I’m very conscious of that, so that’s something that I definitely look out for in the interview process, try to find people who have got experience working in PR or events because they’re usually quite aware of they fact that a lot of work goes on in the background to get to that point.
Bumble Bizz is such a great platform, how important has networking been to you? What would be your advice for women looking to network, because sometimes it can be quite daunting!
I was so scared of networking when I was younger. The thought of attending a networking event at university made me feel sick. I think networking is honestly just an intimidating and scary word for making new friends. I think that when you scale it back to that, it’s far less intimidating. It is such an important part of forming your career and your career path. I have mentors now. I value those people and I really need mentors in my life. It can really go a long way talking to the right person, so I think it really is important to network.
Looking back on your career progression, what advice would you give your younger self?
Well I was thinking about this the other day, about where I was 10 years ago and what I would have expected of myself at this point in my life. I could never have dreamt up where I am now. I haven’t done anything I thought I would do by this age, but what I have done is better. So I just think really be open-minded, try new things. I definitely would just say go with your gut and try to search for something that you’re truly passionate about. If you’re a driven and ambitious person, you’re always going to excel more at something that you truly care about.
We all know when something really resonates with us and when it doesn’t and when you’re passionate and when you’re not, so I would just say, search for something that really lights a fire inside of you and then you will succeed.
Many people, including myself, love a perve at people’s routines, especially what gets them up and going in the morning – what does your morning routine look like?
I love podcasts, so just going for a walk and listening to a podcast is great for me. I used to be quite athletic and competitive at sport, so I always had this belief that you had to really kill yourself to do proper exercise. I was a rower, so weight training was quite intense, so it kind of meant that after stepping out of that kind of competitive sport I really battled to train because I would always try and push myself really hard, and then if I didn’t feel like I could do that I just wouldn’t train at all. So for me, now, it’s not so much going to bed and forcing myself to get to the gym in the morning. It can just be, if I’m feeling tired, going for a walk and doing something to really just move your body and get yourself going, so just going for a walk, listening to a podcast, or if I’m feeling up for it I’ll go for a run.
Working in tech you’re no doubt connected all the time, especially with the nature of your job. Do you find yourself needing to switch off from screen time? How do you manage that?
Yeah, definitely. I will try and do things that get me as relaxed as possible, so going for a facial or something like that. I meditate every night before bed, I use the Headspace app to switch my mind off.
Work/life balance has kind of become one of those things – it’s so easy to talk about but hard to achieve. Is it actually a priority for you, and if so, how do you try to manage that?
Yeah, it is. I definitely am short on time, so again it’s just finding the little things that I can do that really benefit myself. Like having a bath and lighting a candle makes me feel like I’ve taken care of myself. But also just getting outdoors, going for a walk, listening to podcasts, walking my dog, those things give me satisfaction.
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