By Jeannine Meyer
As Holly Tattersall straps on her hiking boots ready to traverse the palm-fringed beaches of Mexico all the way down to the archaeological wonders of Peru, little does she know that this adventure will be the springboard into her entrepreneurial life.
Devoted to the industry, Holly is a renowned leader in the digital world. Founder and CEO of Women in Digital and Digital Talent Co, Holly defines herself as a zealous digital career advisor and diversity advocate. Holly’s great passion for organisational change, people and diving into the depths of psychology, discovering why people do the things they do, formed a vision for Holly that illustrated a career in human resources and recruitment. Toward the completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with majors in International Business and HR, Holly credits the reputation of the University of Queensland as being a platform that assisted her in obtaining an internship before she graduated and then a marketing graduate position at the Brisbane based award-winning agency, Reload Media. Once Holly had some industry experience under her belt, she broke out of the Brisbane bubble and headed for Central and South America with a group of friends. It was in Colombia where Holly would later fall in love and end up spending 2 years building and forming her first business in tourism which focused on organised tours.
Upon her return and living back in Australia, Holly found herself frustrated as she realised that the experience of owning a tour guide business was difficult to translate into a career path. Thus, she began to navigate her career in digital recruitment, however, like other women, was faced with a range of challenges. With obstacles that were linked to lack of confidence or from encountering people with ample force and conviction, Holly networked her way into finding a female mentor who happened to be an executive at Deloitte Digital. By having a mentor who took an interest in Holly’s career and who understood the importance of networking and building self-confidence, she quickly realised that this type of support and guidance could benefit other women – and that’s when 2014 welcomed the formation of Women in Digital. Looking back, Holly acknowledges it as being “a personal experience” that saw her “coming out of adversity and figuring out what I can do next”. The combination of owning and managing Women in Digital and Digital Talent Co, which was founded in 2016, fills Holly with purpose and appreciation as Digital Talent Co helps people successfully find themselves within their career, whereas Women in Digital brands Holly with the opportunity to promote diversity in the industry.
As a female myself, close to graduating university and about to enter the industry, I wondered: What could’ve been some of the challenges for Holly that were inextricably linked to her gender? Holly expresses that she hasn’t actually faced any challenges in that sense, and that most of her challenges have been self-limiting. She finds that most women in Australia are highly valued and that having a female executive or CEO is considered a trophy. She was, of course, confronted once by a male CTO who said to her “I don’t understand this drive for women in technology. At the end of the day, if you have a female and a male programmer who start together on day 1, by day 100 the man is going to be better because his brain is more hardwired. It’s more rational.” So, obviously there are some outmoded opinions, but for the most part people have modernised and recognise the importance of value and diversity.
As the large workforce revolution approaches, Holly advises that women equip themselves with as much digital education as possible. Education, solid networking skills and a flexible personality are the three tickets that’ll launch any woman’s career and ensure that they have as much of an opportunity at being considered for board positions later down the track. Holly shares that she has been asked whether she has always been out-going and self-assured, but claims she has had to teach herself to be confident and extroverted. A recent conversation with a female sales leader backed her up by saying “In order to get where you want to go, you need to go against your natural grain if you’re someone who’s naturally introverted”.
Now, what’s been her biggest adventure? Holly describes building a business and taking the leap of faith to start Women in Digital and Digital Talent Co has taught her life’s invaluable journey of self-discovery that encompassed learning about her potential, skills, weaknesses, who she is as a leader and how she can grow as a person. Holly encourages all women to start and create their own career paths and to defy the fear that sometimes arises when you decide to own your own business.