Kirsty Jackson – The Amazing Super Mama 

Kirsty, I have loved getting to know you over the past six months and you’re someone who I admire a lot! You’re raising a gorgeous small human, kickin’ big CMO career goals, and you even help your husband run one of his businesses. C’mon, spill the beans. How on earth do you do it all? 

I have loved getting to know you too Eron and thank you so much for choosing me for your latest Super Women Collective interview. It seems overwhelming when it’s all listed out, but my secret to doing it all is that it’s most definitely not all me. I am supported by a wonderful village of family and friends. I also have zero spare time.

When you’re a working mama, mornings can often be nothing short of chaotic, so can you share with me what your morning routine [or rhythm] looks like? 

It took us quite a while to find our morning rhythm, but with our almost-two-year-old son entering his second year of daycare now, we’re in a pretty comfortable routine. 

My husband and I share the daycare drop-off and pick-up duties so we can both get a full day of work in. I drop our son off each day, so chaotic mornings are something I am very familiar with. To get us up and out of the front door by 7:30 am the routine starts the night before with bags packed and clothes ready to go. I’m up and ready before our son wakes somewhere between 6:30-7 am. We’ll have a good chat, nappy change battle, a big breakfast – usually with a Wiggles dance party – clothes dressing battle, and then we’re in the car and off to daycare. 

With the daycare drop off done by 8 am (on a good day), I settle into the 30-minute drive to the office with my homemade coffee and a podcast or audiobook, before I’m in at work by 8:30 am. 

You’ve been Chief Marketing Officer [CMO] with the Cohort Go team for just shy of three years now, how have you found having such a massive role like that and being in the trenches of raising a teeny tiny human? What have you found the most challenging?

I hadn’t been in my new role with Cohort Go long before I fell pregnant, so at first, it was challenging to share the news with my colleagues. My husband and I had been waiting a long time for this pregnancy though, so I knew I had the strength to make it work for everyone.

I worked till I was 38 weeks pregnant and had my baby four days later (would not recommend… mamas – spend two weeks at home, the spa, the movies, sleeping!). Four weeks later I was hosting a full-day strategy session at my home with my executive team, and then was back in the office five-days a fortnight by the time my son was four months old. This was the most challenging time – nights were still long, I was pumping in the office twice a day, and trying to manage a full-time job in half the time. 

In my experience, the challenge with returning to a leadership role on a part-time basis was that I didn’t adjust my expectations or that of my colleagues to fit my reduced hours. At that time I had so much more going on in my life – morning feeds, babysitting coordination, sterilising bottles, packing my pump, the list goes on (#mentalload), and I hadn’t even showered yet –  but everyone else around me was still living the same life and expecting the same outcomes. 

Those early months of motherhood taught me a lot about myself. I have always had a keen interest in human behaviour and emotional intelligence and the long nights with a newborn gave me plenty of opportunities to work on my resilience and confidence. 

When our son was eight months old I returned to the office full-time as a more efficient, confident and resilient leader. While the morning mayhem was still the same, the extended hours in the office meant I could be much more present when I was at home. 

Every mama always craves a bit of ‘me’ time, and whilst I know moments spent alone are pretty few and far between, tell me, what do you do that’s just for you?

For me, going to the gym is so important for my mental fitness, along with my physical health. I go to an Xtend Barre studio which is a mix of ballet and pilates with a focus on strength and core fitness – I’ve been going for five years now and still love every class. 

I also enjoy a long lunch with the gals, and the odd visit to a beautiful spa for a massage or facial, but I find it tough to plan weekend ‘me’ time – I’d really rather be down at the river sharing a wine with friends while the kiddies play.

In your own opinion, what do you think the biggest barriers are for women to move into senior leadership roles? What needs to change and what can companies practically do to better support women?

There are so many elements of our work culture that contribute to this issue, so I’ll narrow it down to the barriers I have experienced. 

Number one would be confidence – we all struggle with imposter syndrome at times but in my experience, the cure for this has been education. The more I learned about confidence (‘The Confidence Code’ by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay) and developed my leadership skills (anything by Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Amy Cuddy) the less I suffered from imposter syndrome. Taking conscious steps to build these skills has been essential to my career success. 

I’m also fortunate to have spent half of my career working with an extraordinary woman – my mum is my greatest role model as a self-made female leader with strong values that have become the building blocks of my career. 

Then, of course, is the unconscious biases that exist in our work culture. That’s a topic for another day. When it comes to parental leave and supportive workplaces, it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Not every new parent wants to approach parental leave in the same way, and not all businesses are able to offer the same level of entitlements. This doesn’t mean that all businesses can’t do more.

For instance, the Government’s Paid Parental Leave entitlements include up to 10 paid ‘keeping in touch’ days. Companies can offer new mothers the opportunity to attend a strategy day, training session, or conference. I utilised these days while on leave, and looking back, having the support of my team to do so set the foundation for a smooth return to work.

The juggle is real. How do you handle tough days in the office, and similarly, how do you handle work when life at home is crazy?

The endless juggle – what did I do with all of my spare time before becoming a mum?! 

Before I became a mum, tough days in the office really had an impact on me, but since returning to work after maternity leave, I am more resilient. Now, when there is a stressful situation in the office, I have a completely different perspective. I also need a buffer between work and home, especially on a tough day, otherwise, I find it difficult to relax and recharge. So I’ve started getting back to the gym after work and now come home feeling relaxed and happy. 

My husband and I both work a nine-day fortnight, sharing Friday’s with our son, so that day out of the office can sometimes be hectic between swimming lessons, emails, naps and playdates. We’re both very supportive of our individual business goals though and help each other out when there is a big project or critical deadline at work. We also have amazing friends and family who help with babysitting and daycare pickups when we’re really stuck. 

Do you have any hot #mamahacks that you’d like to share?

Sure do – here are some #mamahacks I use to help with the juggle:

  • The Lifecake app to share photos and milestones with our family – it keeps them updated and it’s so nice to scroll back through the months. 
  • My husband and I don’t have a family calendar but send each other invites for everything. 
  • A shared family Trello board to keep track of our life admin – shopping lists, to-do lists, chores, travel plans.

And the #mamahacks for home – they’re mostly food-related:

  • A toddler kitchen ladder to get the kiddies involved in dinner prep – it entertains our son just long enough for his dinner to hit the plate. Google ‘Ikea kitchen ladder hack’.
  • Big batches of pasta sauce/bolognese portioned and frozen for quick dinners during the week, and fresh ravioli from the fridge section at Woolworths – it cooks in 2 minutes!
  • Always travel with snacks – and fruit, popcorn, cheese are some great snacks you don’t have to make.
  • And, one more – daycare brings home all of the germs, especially in the first year, and I take ArmaForce by Bioceuticals to help fight off the illnesses. 

Ok, so now to the most important questions!

Favourite time of the day? When my son wakes in the morning and calls “mummy” – unless it’s before 6 am.

Favourite workwear labels? Country Road, Saba, Witchery and shoes from Bared Footwear.

I’m happiest when… Eating with my family and friends.

I’m addicted to… Podcasts and audiobooks about successful ladies.

Top three Instagram handles that inspire you? @huffpostwomen @zotheysay @forbeswomen

ABOUT ERON CASTRO

Who am I? I’m a proud Digital Recruiter at ‘affix’ in Brisbane and I’ve been hanging out in the Marketing & Recruitment space since around 2010. Aside from that, I’m a wife, a Mumma, and an aficionado of Latte Ristretto’s and 90’s Hip Hop.

Say hi here.