We sat down with Rachel Morar, Chief Operating Officer at MyKindaFuture, the overlooked talent specialists, to find out how she became the leading businesswoman that she is today, and to get her take on how UK business can accelerate the pace of change towards gender equality.
At MyKindaFuture, Rachel’s work helps to support people from diverse backgrounds into employment, providing underrepresented talent with the knowledge, aspiration and confidence they need to succeed.
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory?
My career began in the corporate world doing sales. One of my first roles was media sales which I did for three years before moving to Argentina, where I was a teacher.
I then moved into the third sector, joining Alzheimer’s Society, a care and research charity for people with dementia and their carers. As part of the Corporate Fundraising team, I introduced Corporate Sponsorship as a revenue stream, something that hadn’t been done before.
After a couple of years with Alzheimer’s Society, I moved on to start my journey with MyKindaFuture. I was recruited to manage sales, a role that hadn’t existed before I joined. After just a couple of months in the role, I started to build a sales team around me at a pace aligned with the company’s growth.
I was then appointed as Head of Business Development; a role that made me responsible for leading a team of business development executives to meet and exceed company targets and client expectations. This coincided with me joining the senior management team, which provided me with the opportunity to contribute to business planning and company strategy.
In December 2017, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, a role that I relish.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Yes and no.
I left university and headed to London, not knowing exactly what it was that I wanted to do. That said, I knew that working in the third sector appealed to me.
However, I quickly realised that jobs in the third sector were very competitive at entry-level, weren’t particularly well paid, and didn’t provide a platform to contribute to real change.
I therefore made a conscious decision to build up my skillset in the corporate world, with a view to transferring across to the third sector later on in my career into a senior role, where I’d be able to have more of an impact.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
To be honest, the third sector wasn’t quite what I’d hoped it would be.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great things about it. I worked with brilliant colleagues and experienced a kinder way of doing business. But things were often slow-moving, and I wasn’t able to influence real-life change as much as I’d envisaged.
So, what do you do when what you’d been planning all along doesn’t quite turn out as you’d expected it to? In my case, I had to find an organisation where I could have an impact and a voice. This was MyKindaFuture.
That’s not to say we haven’t experienced challenges at MyKindaFuture. One of the biggest obstacles we’ve had to overcome is shaking off our start-up mentality, while being careful not to lose our culture. In the early days, as a team of just six people, everybody was involved in making decisions that influenced all areas of the business. As MyKindaFuture has grown, it has been important to employ experts into roles and trust them to get on with things, which took some getting used to.
In order to scale up while maintaining the company’s culture, we’ve been careful to place focus on our employer brand, establishing values, behaviours and a mission that all staff can get behind. The behaviours, in particular, demonstrate to people considering a job with MyKindaFuture how we’d expect them to adopt our values, allowing us to cultivate a well-aligned workforce.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I’m proud of everything we’ve done at MyKindaFuture, which includes growing the business from six employees to today’s 54, achieving significant investment and bringing new products to market.
Initially, we were largely a face to face delivery organisation, running workshops and insight days. Now, we’re a digital entity. Our Connectr platform, for instance, which is soon to be relaunched, connects overlooked talent and businesses, and has so far helped 30,000 people to get into the workplace.
Ultimately, the amount of people we’ve been able to help at MyKindaFuture has grown year on year, and this is what I’m most proud of.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My experience in the third sector was absolutely transformative. Certainly, the corporate world did not present me with the amazing, inspirational female bosses that I worked under at Alzheimer’s Society. These women have informed my approach to business ever since I met them.
The way in which they did business has helped me to craft a working culture I’m proud of at MyKindaFuture. I think that it is essential for women in business to have strong, female role models.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I volunteer with the Girls’ Network, an organisation set up to inspire and empower girls from disadvantaged communities by connecting them with a mentor and a network of professional female role models.
The network was set up by two teachers who were constantly noticing a lack of career ambition from girls in the classroom when compared to boys.
Mentors from all walks of life are involved with the network, including brain surgeons, writers and artists. The aim is to open up opportunities to young girls that their peers from more privileged backgrounds already have access to.
The network pairs mentors with mentees based on mutual interests and likely compatibility. I’ve just finished mentoring two girls going through their final GCSE year; an experience that was immensely rewarding for both them and myself.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for gender equality, what would it be?
One thing in particular that I think would accelerate the pace of change towards gender equality in the workplace is mothers and fathers spending the same amount of time on parental leave.
Currently, mothers take an 8% salary reduction when returning to work (per child), on average, while men enjoy a 6% increase in salary after becoming fathers. Paid shared leave will go a long way to ending the stigma that mums face when returning to the workplace and, in turn, help our progress towards gender equality.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Speak up more. Don’t be afraid to call out practices that disadvantage women in the workplace and that are wrong.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I’ve recently become a mum, so right now I’m figuring out how to balance being a mum and a great COO at MyKindaFuture.
I want to see MyKindaFuture reach its potential and right now we’re on the cusp of doing great things. We’re entering new markets, launching new products and helping more people than ever before. Long may this continue!
To read more about how MyKindaFuture is changing lives and building the bridge between employers and diverse talent pools through technology, visit https://www.mykindafuture.com/
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