Kirsty Spickett explains how working for a start-up and having children has helped her career
Campaign recently published a career feature on Kirsty Spickett, Blenheim Chalcot’s Marketing Director. Kirsty shares that working with early-stage businesses as a mother has forced her to adopt new habits, like quick decision-making and ruthless prioritisation. See below for the full article.
I was thrilled when I was named in Campaign’s 30 under 30 in 2010 – world at my feet, all of that stuff. But that was six years ago. When I look back at what I’ve done since, it feels like a lifetime.
Today I have two careers, both central to who I am. Having done agency and corporate, I’m now Marketing Director at Blenheim Chalcot, the UK’s most successful venture builder. And I’m a mum: Chief Customer Experience Officer to a very active two-and-a-half year old boy with a second child due to join the team mid-July.
The mindset change I’ve undergone since having children has been transformational. Put a professional career together with a family and where there was once hours of procrastination there is now sharp focus, quick decisions, and ruthless prioritisation. I work fewer hours and deliver more impact. Oh, and I’ve grown a pretty thick rhino-skin, too.
Incidentally, this new mindset dovetails neatly with the rapid pace of the start-up culture I’m immersed in at Blenheim Chalcot. Building digital businesses that transform industries leans on my professional journey through agency and client-side and my ability to make informed decisions fast.
I’m off on maternity leave shortly and I’ll enjoy it. My company is incredibly supportive of working mums and having children hasn’t held back my career. So I’m going to have a stimulating time with my new child and I’ll be coming back to a stimulating role when I return. The world’s still out there.
What have I learned on the journey so far? Well…
YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING: Even if you’ve been in the same role for years, you still don’t know everything. Be agile, adaptable, open to ideas and experiences from people around you – including those at the other end of the career ladder.
WORK FOR A START UP: What I’ve learned during the past 18 months working with early-stage businesses has been like taking a fast-track MBA. Understanding what it takes to set-up, fund and run a successful new business is invaluable. If I wanted to start my own venture – and I’ve felt that call – I now know how to go about it.
HAVING CHILDREN HELPS YOUR CAREER: If you want to bring clarity and focus to business decision-making, manage a family alongside a professional role. You get stuff done, you develop a thick skin, you learn to appreciate the emotional impact of real drama (I cry in Disney movies!).
RECOGNISE YOUR LIMITS: Surround yourself with people who have strengths where you don’t. It’s easy to employ ‘people like me’, but the moment I stopped doing that and recruited people with complementary skillsets to mine was the moment we became a more powerful team.
NETWORK: It was only after I started looking for a new role after my first maternity leave that I realised how important my network was. Since then I’ve embraced it and expanded it. It’s easy to cancel a coffee when you’re under the cosh, but it can be a mistake: some of my most valuable ideas have come from those casual conversations.
BE YOURSELF: I’m the same at home as I am in the office and it means I’m always consistent with the values I hold, the way I do things and the people I work with closely.
We are venture builders, not venture capitalists. We invest more than just funds; we invest our knowledge and experience, our ideas and our infrastructure.
Working alongside entrepreneurs and co-founders, we support our ventures from startup to scale to exit, giving them access to the global networks and business development services they need to grow.
This support is bolstered by the innovation partnerships we forge with big businesses. Our digital expertise helps them be more agile, while their global scope helps our ventures scale faster.
Founded in 1998 Blenheim Chalcot traces its roots back to netdecisions, the internet services group. Already back then we set out to build companies to transform industry sectors. And since then we’ve become the UK’s leading venture builder, with portfolio sales of over £300m, more than 3,000 employees, and a successful track record of over 40 companies.
Our approach to transforming industries has always been the same. We identify high growth sectors, typically undergoing some market, technology or regulatory discontinuity, and look to build scalable platforms that satisfy a real customer need. We aim to build profitable companies, with sustainable business models.
We don’t chase unicorns – we build gazelles.