Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).
Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.
Sally Lane Jewellery is designed for exactly such Strong Yet Feminine women…the fierceness of the edgy triangle jewellery is the perfect accessory to these confident, go get ‘em ladies...all power to you!
Caroline Henne, CMO of Wolf and Badger (for 3 days a week), shares how her decision to leave a major corporate and become self-employed in order to explore multiple passions, has made her the richest she has ever been, despite earning less!
Tell us a little about your decision to change the pace of work/life and how it is working for you.
I wanted to do something I believe in, and also make more space for the things I love in life in general. In my corporate job as Sector Lead Luxury at Google I learned a great deal, yet it didn’t really agree with my values fully, and was full time of course, which is why I first decided to go 100% freelance and work as a Marketing and Strategy Consultant and Creativity Workshop Facilitator in June 2017.
One of my first freelance projects was with sustainable fashion, design & beauty retailer Wolf & Badger, and I fell in love with their concept and ethics, which is why I joined them as CMO in August 2017. Still - I didn’t want to commit to another full-time role, which is why we decided on a 3-day-a-week assignment. Like this, I can still run my creativity workshops and other freelance projects that widen my horizon, or simply go to all those exhibitions that I’ve always wanted to see, sing & play the piano until late at night, meet friends & old work connections...you never know what inspiration they might have in store for me!
Was there an instance that made you decide to change things?
Very cliche, but yes...at least an experience that gave me the space to reflect and sent me the right signals: I was in India at the beginning of last year - in beautiful Kerala - all by myself. And I met two amazing women:
The fabulous Shalin, a single mother of two, who - despite significant hardships - keeps an incredibly positive attitude towards everything and everyone, and taught me that to be strong means to be happy.
And the wonderful Joanne - who made me see that choosing my own path doesn’t mean following just one passion, but that going self-employed means I can potentially follow ALL my passions.
I used to be a little jealous of friends & colleagues who had ONE passion only that they followed with utmost dedication. I always loved many different things, so finally seeing that I could lead a life pursuing them all at once made me very happy, and does still.
Tell us about the most influential people in your career, so far and why.
My first boss in the UK, now long over a decade ago, once said: “No lives are lost if you don’t do your job tomorrow.” That killed the perfectionist in me there & then, and put things into perspective, and it does still.
My unofficial mentor Dominic Trigg - a very successful entrepreneur - with whom I share a passion for mindfulness and pursuing one’s dreams, taking time for ourselves and our loved ones despite a heavy workload, having fun with what we do and who we do it with, a passion for individuals, mentoring, growing those around us.
The phenomenal Eileen Naughton - former MD of Google UK, now Global Head of HR - who was once asked what her biggest asset was that she brought to the table as new Global Head of HR. She answered: “My heart.” Wow.
What is the most disappointing thing that has happened to you, as a woman in the industry?
Often the reactions and behaviour of other women, unfortunately. I find it rather sad that women often don’t support other women in business organisations, instead feel threatened and thus threaten back.
I once went to a workshop at Google called “Stretch”- for women that want to progress in their career. I was asked to leave in the first break, as all other women in the room wanted to learn how to be strong and I already was too strong, which was apparently confusing for everyone else. It’s been really hard to find a good mentor within the companies I’ve worked in, someone who doesn’t want to shape my strength into a rather “male” attribute, but rather who could teach me how to use strength and femininity at the same time to progress, lead and inspire others.
What is your advice to other women who may be stuck in corporate macho bullshit?
Get out! Follow your inner voice and do what you love with people you love.
Speak up, be brave. If you get the wrong reaction to that you’re in the wrong place anyways. And believe me, there are plenty of alternatives that might not help you accumulate a lot of money, but make you a richer person nonetheless!