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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 72: Celebrating the amazing things mums can do

Anita Noller and Jessica Wong-Saunderson

Founders of MumbleMe

June 20, 2023
Anita and Jess are two founders who want to change the stat that mums are three times more likely to leave the workforce during their 30s due to the demands of motherhood. They’re giving women the opportunity to highlight how their skills can benefit employers showing what mums can do, not what mums can't do.
DWEN
This episode is brought to you by DWEN the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network
For more than a decade, DWEN has brought women entrepreneurs together from around the world to help them connect, scale their businesses, and ultimately succeed. Join DWEN today for free access to a global network of women entrepreneurs and valuable resources to grow your business.

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Links

MumbleMe

DWEN Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network

Danielle Asciak- from The Women's Club

Melissa Pepers - Reimaginers

Amanda Sim - Evry Word

Jacqueline Carson from Block Society 

Credits

Produced by - Lucy Kippist

Edited by - Morgan Brown
‍Interviewers -
Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
‍Guest -
Anita Noller and Jessica Wong-Saunderson

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Episode 72 Transcript

Carrie Kwan (00:17.642)

Now we love educating women on pitching with confidence. Anita, we'd love to hear a bit more about MumbleMe and your story. Please can you give us your 30 second elevator pitch?

Anita (00:29.226)

So MumbleMe exists to give every mum in Australia access to the career opportunity she chooses when she chooses it. We know the statistics, mums are three times more likely to leave the workforce during their 30s due to the demands of motherhood. And the motherhood penalty can last up to a decade, impacting career progression, the gender pay gap, and superannuation. Our solution is MumbleMe. It's an online marketplace where mums can go to find their next job or to simply understand what sort of career options are available to them when they're ready to make the next move. So essentially, MumbleMe is a separate laneway for mums when applying and interviewing for jobs. When hiring managers, host jobs through our platforms and mums apply for those jobs. We give them the opportunity to then have a more meaningful conversation about how their skills can benefit the business and it's more about what mums can do and not what mums can't do.

Carrie Kwan (03:29.886)

Now, you're in the business supporting other women to advance their ambition.But how do you define your own?

Anita (04:04.579)

My ambition simply comes from a desire to learn and to see problems solved. So even in my corporate roles, I do consider myself a bit of an intrapreneur and I always seem to find myself in roles or maybe drawn to roles where I was building something in the business from scratch, so to speak. So I think with those sort of natural inclinations and ways of seeing the world, developing a business that tackles an issue that's widely spoken about and has been for decades just seems like a natural progression for me. I think ambition is unleashed when you do simply lean into your own strengths and when you're doing what comes naturally ambition is just that vehicle that enables you to apply your strengths in your most effective way and then essentially that's what MumbleMe is all about as well.

Jess (05:01.292)

So there's two ways that I like to answer the question about my own ambition. Firstly, as a mum of a young toddler, I'm someone that's, you know, always worked hard in my career and I deeply love and care about my son. And so for me, ambition is, and being successful in that regard is tracking the right balance between having a thriving career as well as thriving as a parent.

And what that looks like is gonna be different for everyone. And so for me, it's striking the balance that I want at every stage of my life. The second aspect to my answer is, I have this life mantra that we're blessed to be a blessing. And so for me, it's about using my skills, my resources, my energy to be helpful and to make a difference to other people's lives. My superpower is as a connector. So I love bringing people together that have the right skills and tools to make stuff happen.

And that's why I'm so excited about MumbleMe, because we're basically connecting these mums with amazing skills, with businesses that need these skills. So yeah, it's great that it all comes together.

Carrie Kwan (07:18.83)

Truly a powerful definition and I would also say that's a definition of mumbition, which is the unapologetic blending of motherhood and ambition. So thank you for leading the way there. Now, I want to get into a little bit more about how you work with women at MumbleMe. How does it actually work? Jessica, perhaps you can kick us off and let us know.

How would, you know, if someone was looking to find, a new career role, what would they do? What are the steps that you would normally take them through and how would you support them?

Jess (07:56.983)

Yeah, sure. So the first thing I would say about that is, firstly, we invite all women, no matter what stage of your career, what stage of your parenthood, no matter what level of skills or what skills you have or level of experience you have, whether you've taken a break for a number of years after having kids, or whether you might not have taken a long break and you've continued to work, but you're just wanting to assess different career options along the way.

Whether you want to work part-time, full-time, contract roles, we invite all women to sign up to MumbleMe. It's completely free for the candidates to sign up. And basically on our platform, they provide an outline of their skill sets, their different sort of criteria, flex factors, level of experience, et cetera. And that goes into their profile. And that's one side of our marketplace. And so the other side of the marketplace are the employers that have different hiring needs. And so we basically connect them together. And if there's roles that suit a particular candidate, that gets pushed out to those candidates. So the other thing I would say is MumbleMe's focus is very much on connecting these mums to the job opportunities. But we recognise that there's a lot of other support that mums would need in their career journeys. And there's actually amazing people and ecosystems, coaches, and lots of support services out there. And so for us, it's about partnering with what's already in the ecosystem to enable these mums, not just to be applying the jobs on their own, but having the support that they need along the career journey.

Carrie Kwan (09:41.814)

And I think that's how we see it too. You know, ever since we've connected and met you in Melbourne, and it's that collaborative and very much a community approach to how you do things. And I think it's really important. I think that's how women actually, you know, it's one of our superpowers in terms of how we actually connect and how we find purpose and purpose in how we wanna spend our time and the careers that we choose.

I want to flip the conversation a little bit more to the actual running of the business and how you might potentially perceive risk. I know that you've had corporate backgrounds as well and how would you currently describe your relationship to risk now since you've created the MumbleMe business?

Anita (10:13.212)

So the things that I've learned over the years to share the ideas with trusted people, the ideas that I have, go to trusted people first and sort of just let them pick apart any idea you have and just go, tell me anything that could go wrong. Like, what do you think about this? And so not being risk averse to me is not being unethical or unlawful. It's just, it allows me to sort of come from a place or an angle of dreaming without limits and I feel like the best ideas do come from a place where you can just dream and just have this idea and then you put it through that fire of risk to understand like which parts of the idea is still going to be valid once it goes through that fire and I think that's where your innovative solutions and designing a really solid solution is going to come from.

Jess (12:21.899)

But I also think that's where the co-founder relationship in this business is really great because as Anita mentioned, we're very different from each other. So I tend to be, just because I come from a legal accounting tax background in my day job that I see everything through the lens of risk. And so, you know, when Anita goes, oh, what about this idea? And I'll be like, okay, but what about this? And, you know, are we ensuring, what about, you know, our obligations, what about, you know, the contractual rights and sort of stepping through that. And so, I mean, I'm a bit of a dreamer myself, but then I've got that, you know, again, that sort of background of really assessing the risks. And so I think it's been really great to work together and strike the right balance in that regard. 

Carrie Kwan (13:41.119)

When you were talking, I was actually thinking that is a brilliant, having a co-founder is almost a brilliant risk mitigation strategy. Because you are actually bringing that diversity of thoughts and you kind of want to have someone that doesn't have exactly the same skill sets as you because you see things differently, you perceive things differently and therefore you will hopefully cover more ground and more eventualities and considerations. When you're actually working together. So if I had my time again, I probably would absolutely say, you know, don't do this without a co-founder. Don't, if you can, or make sure you actually surround yourself with enough people, with enough diverse thinking and diverse skill sets that you can call upon advice when you need to and run your business.

Lucy Kippist (14:36.102)

The word that I was hearing as you were talking about risk there, Anita and Jess was trust. And I think that's such a phenomenal piece of the business puzzle, especially in a team. And we have a terrific testimonial from you Anita, expressing your gratitude for the psychological safety of Mums & Co to  test and learn some of your early ideas.

Just inviting you to share a little bit more about that. Like why has that psychological safety been so important to you in the journey of MumbleMe?

Jess (15:05.579)

Yeah, so we launched quickly in April 2022, so just a bit over a year ago. Jess and I met for coffee and this idea that I had brewing for a few years, pun intended, came up. And then by the end of that catch up, we were in partnership. We planned to launch by November and somehow did that to simply test this idea in the real world.

DWEN

And I guess at the time we didn't really think through like maybe the emotional impact or like the fact that we face failure a lot very quickly. And somewhere in that time we met Mums & Co. So we launched, did a soft launch in November and then by February we launched a little bit harder and it became very apparent that we were going to need to align ourselves to more established business network. And so Mums & Co kind of got me with that line ‘Australia's most caring business networking community.’ And so I just sort of laid out the dream to Lucy in that first meeting. And her response was, you know, basically, okay, well, we're here to support you, get there. She's just started letting me try a few ideas, which I would say at the time, like they didn't really go anywhere substantial, but it allowed me to put myself out there and sort of, be faced with having to pivot quickly even when it didn't work. So for example, we did a colouring competition and I guess, you know, in the past something like that would have landed but it didn't land the way I thought it would. And what I actually found from that experience was a technology solution in our current technology, you know, tools that we had that allowed us to actually develop a mechanism to partner with advocates to get this marketplace going. But if we didn't sort of have Mums & Co saying like, ‘hey, you know, like just put it out there and let's see what happens’. I don't think I would have like stepped back from that experience and thought, well, even though this is not working, you know, like Mums & Co has developed this community literally for this reason for us to test and learn. So what is it that they're saying about what I'm doing that I can take and sort of apply it to my own feeling failure in this point and step back and go, okay, how do I make this better? How do I learn from this? What did I get out of it? And something completely unrelated, a solution completely unrelated to a colouring competition actually came out of that. And I just don't think I would have been able to do that mentally if I didn't have a safe space to just test something.

Lucy Kippist (18:08.958)

That's fantastic. It's so great to hear that feedback. Thank you for sharing and great that you got that result too. Speaking of technology in business, as your business is adapting and changing, how has technology allowed you to grow at MumbleMe?

Anita (18:38.638)

So basically, you know, we've learnt a lot about how our technology solutions can grow with us. We sort of picked our technology solutions sort of carefully, but we picked ones that basically sort of structured us in a certain way, but with enough flexibility for us to do some custom things. And we've learned that whenever we come up with a new idea for our marketplace, we go back to the technology tools that we've already picked and go, what can we test with our current technology solutions that are going to get the desired effect for what we're thinking? And a lot of the time, you don't actually need to look at new softwares tech solutions and we were doing that a lot at the start, but we've realized now we just go back to the few we've picked and go, how can we actually achieve a test version of this with what we've got? And a lot of the time it is simply just going back to your developer or designer and having a 20-minute chat and going, I'm thinking this, can this do it? If it can't, we have this other tool, can it do it together? And if not, am I thinking about the solution incorrectly? And a lot of the times,instead of going and searching, you can paint the new tools and technology and building things. When we've done that, we've been able to pivot really quickly. And the other thing I'd say about it is, you know, don't be afraid of backend technology, like just get in there and learn it. A lot of things I've been able to build myself when chatting to a developer, and it's actually not that difficult. So be brave and just get in the backend.

Lucy Kippist (20:35.75)

Such good advice, sterling advice, because that's an area where a lot of our community can kind of find fairly challenging. And I think it is that giving yourself permission to just give it a go and try.

Jess (20:45.175)

Yeah.

Lucy Kippist (20:51.614)

You spoke before beautifully, I might add, about the benefits of being in a community like Mums & Co for the psychological safety element. And I know that you Anita have joined a couple of our member meetups too over the last six months or so. What do you think the benefits are of joining a community of like-minded women who are facing similar challenges to you?

Anita (21:16.526)

So I think it's sort of, you know, in the same vein of what we were talking about before about having a co-founder and, you know, having that other person to bounce the ideas off. But in this sense, you've got lots of women trying to do the same thing, either in a similar space that you're in, so, you know, to do with mums or women, or they're in a completely different space. And I think it's just really necessary when you're building a business with a social angle to be able to speak with like-minded people because it can turn into an emotional journey and not just simply just a business or economic journey. And so I think women are not afraid to go, look, my emotions are getting in the way of this or I'm feeling this and just talking about it so that those emotions can quickly drift into the distance and you can get back to business and I don't think if we had this sort of community, whether we'd be able to quickly move past some of those emotional aspects of building the business as quickly and it might have even led to more sort of negative behaviors that would impact the growth and the launch phase. 

Jess (22:38.771)

And I would add to that every lady that we've met through the Mums & Co community have been so professional, so excellent to interact with and everyone has a how do we collaborate together, what are some ideas and that would provide a win-win sort of result to both businesses and yeah we love that. Like it's just been so collaborative and solutions focused and you know women supporting women which we love.

Lucy Kippist (23:05.79)

Beautiful, we love hearing that. So we've talked a lot about the business and we've talked a lot about community and at Mums & Co we talk about the idea of striving for harmony in our lives. So harmony being a triangle of our ambition, our livelihood and our wellbeing. Love to invite both of you to answer this question, separately of course, but can you describe what the shape of a good life looks like for you?

Anita (23:32.934)

So in, I guess, talking about the triangle, I think before having kids, I really would have compartmentalized those three aspects. You only have work and then you have your social life and then you have, you know, things that you want to do personally or develop within yourself. And I would have previously seen myself in that triangle, sort of moving around those bits and pieces and then post having kids, they all blur. And so if I try to move around it like I previously did that guilt comes in or you feel stressed because you're like well I'm focusing on this when I should be focusing on that and then you don't see yourself being as present as you used to be so I guess for me I sort of started to see the triangle inside me and it's just all blurred and at any one point in time that point is you know leading the way and the other two are definitely there and I'm not compartmentalizing anything but sort of using them as a guide or like as a compass to make sure that I'm present either at work or in my mum life or in my personal social areas. If I let them be blurred and I let that particular point just take the lead, the other two sort of balance it out nicely.

Jess (24:49.351)

For me, I'm imagining this one of those like squishy balls where, and I wanted to bring a prop but I couldn't find it, sorry, but so one of those squishy balls where like when you squeeze it, it kind of like molds and bends to like different, you know, like in different ways, but it doesn't burst. And so part of this is, and so for me, like, you know, the different elements of my life and, you know, my career and being a mum and wellbeing and all of that stuff, it's all sort of mixed in this ball. And imagine, for example, there's a different color for each thing. So like, you know, there's a red blob, blue blob, green blob, and then it kind of mixes together. So you see bits of purple and green or whatever color. But my, what I'm trying to say is that in life, like for me, it's like everything does melt together. And sometimes you'll have pressure in certain areas, but then the ball kind of just reshapes itself, but it still doesn't burst. And so for me, maybe this is quite telling about my, I want it all mentality. I'm just really greedy. I want everything to work out well. But yeah, like I, you know, I just hope that this squishy ball, no matter what life throws at me, will just continue to, you know, not burst and bounce along and enjoy itself.

Lucy Kippist (26:16.154)

Terrific answers. Now time for the final question and as two businesses, yours and ours, that support women who are the mumbitious, so the women who are raising children and running a business that you would like to say hello to today.

Anita (26:33.046)

Um, so I have a few people from the Mums & Co community that I'll just give a shout out to that have supported the MumbleMe journey to date. So we've got Jacqueline Carson from Block Society and Danielle Asciak from The Women's Club. So they've supported and believed in the MumbleMe journey today. So real thank you and shout out to them. Also Melissa Pepers, who I met in the very first Mums & Co meet up, who was a future thinker, fellow future thinker and just the person I needed to meet at that first meet up as well to sort of go, okay I got this, I'm not crazy. There's other people that do think about the world this way. And then I guess just really quickly, we have sort of a team of women that supported us from day one, like back in April, May last year. So Amanda Sim from Every Word, Danielle Lee, one of our stellar IT product experts in the background, Andrilla Roy, an expert lawyer, and Julia Chow, who wasn't afraid to ask us the tough questions. And then finally Jess's sister. My little sister Fiona who is a market research specialist and an all-rounder in someone that can support and help in different ways and rally the troops when we need help. Thank you to all these women. Thank you.