Let’s Talk… Resilience


There is always something that comes to test us and often it is out of our control. How can we handle it and what we learn from it is up to us.

We asked experts how they have been tested in business and what helped them to persevere.

Mark Fletcher, Co-founder and CEO, Cohort Go:

Cohort Go was established with the goal of enabling international students to pay their tuition fees in their home currency, but when we first began expanding our operation to facilitate this goal, we were stonewalled by global conditions in the banking industry that tested our resilience. We tried opening international bank accounts at a time when globally, bank compliance departments began tightening regulations, and shutting down any business that appeared to be transferring money around the world. For several years during our infancy, we received rejections from banks because of this.

Instead of throwing in the towel, we identified the need to diversify our service offering to not only sustain the business during this time, but also increase the businesses overall resilience and sustainability. We’ve since expanded our payment platform and developed many strong relationships with banks. Our persistence enabled us to continue growing, while providing us with some much-needed revenue that saw the business through until banking conditions started to change.

Sarah Moran, CEO & Co-founder, Girl Geek Academy:
This year I had a family member suicide and two months later my biological father passed away. I come from a country town where everyone knows everyone, and both of these people were well-known and loved. These deaths were unfortunately sudden, shocking and devastating. I still had a business to run, and my team rely on me for the bulk of our cash flow. I had to manage their expectations of my availability with the needs of my family and country town community. This was as much a test of my leadership as it was a test of the processes I have built over the years to ensure my business can survive without me.This situation tested both my own personal resilience and the resilience of the business. My team stepped up and delivered when I had to be offline and sitting with grief. This proved to me the processes we have in place allow my business to run without me. What helps me persevere is knowing my team have my back, and I can be offline when I need to. As I write this my sister is having a baby and I know I can go and spend quality aunty time with my future-coder niece or nephew.

Nicolette Maury, VP and Managing Director, Intuit Australia:

In the fast paced world of cloud announcing technology change is the only constant and being a resilient leader is critical to success. Australia is a competitive market and to stay on top we often need to pivot or rethink our approach entirely in response to our changing business environment.

In moments where I feel that my mettle is being tested, I default to three main coping mechanisms:

1) I use trusted external and internal sounding boards. Speaking to people outside my direct sphere of influence allows me to gain new perspectives that help me think critically and creatively through challenges by chunking them into smaller more manageable pieces.

2) Adopt more of a proactive approach; I make time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t. I fully appreciate that barriers often lead to valuable learnings that make us better, and by crucially acknowledging lessons learnt, I am a more decisive leader in the moments when it matters.

3) Stay focused on the goal: I have a clear vision of where we’re taking Intuit and why. To stay in touch with this vision I spend a lot of time with our customers, listening to them talkabout their challenges or how QuickBooks has made their business more successful. This not only gives me a burst of motivation but it keeps me aware of my true north.

Phoebe Netto, Founder, Pure Public Relations:

Expecting my first child, I had handed the day-to-day running of my business to my sole employee. Two days after I gave birth, that employee resigned. It was unexpected, threw out my carefully-made plans, and the timing made things quite stressful, to say the least!

Thankfully, many of the skills that you need to run a successful business correspond with the skills you need to deal with challenges: from delegation, outsourcing, agility and productivity to resourcefulness, perseverance, hard work and confidence.

Having laid the foundation of the business with that skillset (and with a stable of happy clients in support), I could draw on it when I needed it most. Without those skills, I would not have been as equipped to turn that period of stress into a period of growth for my business.