Welcome to "The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”. Season 1 was launched to help people through the pandemic by talking to a variety of experts about topics such as psychology, finance and health. Season 2 focused on more work related issues including HR, marketing and leadership. Now it is time for Season 3! Season 3 is centred on the IT industry, specifically tech startups. There are also Career Spotlights from senior IT people revealing the secrets to their impressive career trajectories.Your host is Nicola Steel, founder of JJP Talent Solutions, an Australian IT recruitment company. For over 20 years, she has helped tech startups and innovative SMEs to attract, recruit and retain technical talent.
Aiming to become the next tech unicorn with Miriam van Heusden, Founder of Maralytics
“Don’t take life too seriously and make sure you have fun” is the advice Miriam van Heusden would tell her 16 year old self in the latest podcast episode of the “The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”.
Miriam is the founder of Maralytics, a software startup which has created a marketing performance program that provides accurate results for sales revenue and customer acquisition. Miriam has many years’ previous experience in the hospitality and travel industries. It was Miriam’s frustration of not being able to find a solution for her restaurant which would allow her to accurately analyse the results of her advertising spend that led her to create Maralytics.
Miriam talks about her main challenges. She worked three jobs for the first few years to fund Maralytics and to keep her dream alive. Another challenge has been finding her ideal customers and providing a solution that they both want and need.
Miriam’s end goal is to sell Maralytics and to be the next tech unicorn! She has lots planned over the next few years including various partnerships, officially launching her software, her book launch as well as travelling and exhibiting on the international stage when Australia’s borders open.
Building high performing engineering teams with Yaniv Bernstein, former Head of Engineering at Google and Airtasker
“Time is a valuable commodity and taking too long to make any sort of decision comes at a really significant but invisible cost” are the wise words Yaniv Bernstein would tell himself if he could turn back time. In the latest podcast episode of “The Spotlight Series – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive”, Yaniv advises that you should act early, act quickly, be courageous and don’t look back!
Yaniv Bernstein has extensive experience as a Software Engineering Manager working for Google twice both in Switzerland and then Sydney. Until recently, he was VP Engineering and then Chief Operating Officer at Airtasker.
We talk about his time at Google and how the company has changed over time. Yaniv worked in different parts of the company including Google Search, YouTube and Google Maps. One of the highlights was working on a system for managing copyright in YouTube which detected copyrighted material before it went live on the site. Today, he feels that Google has somewhat lost its way with increasing distance between leadership and the people working on the ground.
We discuss how the transition from working at Google to startups was a bit of shock. Having spent 10 years with Google, he was somewhat institutionalised. Google has a reputation for having very high hiring standards. In a start-up, it was his job to make the team perform to the high level of Google whilst being involved in the entire interview process, hiring decisions, salary negotiations etc. We talk about his transition to COO at Airtasker where he was tasked with creating a high performance cross functional organisation spanning from engineering to customer support and HR.
Yaniv’s advice to grow teams where individuals can really grow, thrive and deliver massive value is for individuals to really understand THE WHY. When he is growing high performance teams, Yaniv looks for the following:
⭐ Intellectual curiosity – i.e. individuals who really need to understand and get to the bottom of things rather than blindly following instructions
⭐ A great mindset
⭐ Hiring for both technical talent and attitude is equally as important
He keeps team members engaged and committed by giving them a sense of purpose so they really understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. It is important to create an environment where there is genuine recognition for the value they provide.
We also talk about his newsletter – People Engineering. His initial purpose for the publication was because very few people really understood what a COO actually was - it was a mysterious role! It quickly developed to a broader discussion on leadership, organisational design and organisational purpose.
The power of age & wisdom as an older startup founder with Vijay Solanki from ParentalEQ
“You can’t do the hours of a 28-year-old but the wisdom you have as a founder over 50 is the counterbalance” are the sage words from Vijay Solanki.
Vijay is the co-founder of ParentalEQ, an app which helps parents manage their children’s emotional & social development. Vijay has had a diverse career that traverses marketing, digital and innovation, delivering a succession of major marketing and digital transformations at a global scale with BP, Philips and Blackberry as well as being the launch marketing director at Shazam.
With a background in Psychology, Vijay is obsessed by what people do and why they do it. The traumatic loss of his mother in adulthood made him rethink about what to do with his life and his parenting style. This became the purpose behind ParentalEQ.
Vijay was born in Kenya to Indian parents and spent most of his earlier years in Yorkshire. His upbringing has really molded his core values which are:
Vijay is a recent cohort of the Activate programme with River City Labs. He explains how RCL is a great place to learn and gets you into shape to present to investors. His advice is to find the investors you think best suit your style and also be very clear of what you want from them and your objectives. One of his main challenges as an early-stage start-up founder has been unlearning and relearning. It is essential that you are coachable.
Vijay will continue to create a more personalized service with ParentalEQ and grow the customer base in Australia and in the UK. His end goal is to impact one million families.
Vijay Solanki🦄 | LinkedIn
Entrepreneurship, Sustainability and Values with Leanne Kemp, Founder of Everledger
“Be stubborn on the vision and flexible on the details…. the “why” is what drives you to keep fighting the good fight” is some key advice from Leanne Kemp.
Leanne is the Founder and CEO of Everledger and until recently was Queensland Chief Entrepreneur. Originally from Brisbane, Leanne describes herself as unemployable and a serial entrepreneur. She is a self taught engineer who loves to solve problems and scale and grow companies. She talks about how being an entrepreneur is like throwing yourself out of a plane (which she has done many times along with many other extreme sports!).
Leanne talks about how she wanted to increase truth and transparency of supply chains and how she started with tracking the traceability of diamonds. She is driven by sustainability, believes that all businesses should have a profit, loss and impact statement and that people and planet should be at the forefront of decision making.
Leanne is a female founder and unconscious bias has actually been one of her superpowers! She can code like the best of them and spends most of her time on a keyboard rather than with people. Leanne’s values are really important to her and have driven the culture of Everledger as she has grown the company to over 100 people globally across 6 locations. These values include:
o Be the trust.
o Be you, be united.
o Pack light, work right.
o Bring the future forward
Leanne stresses the importance of having aligned principles when attracting investors. You can’t simply get rid of an investor!
Leanne also talks about how she plans to innovate and disrupt the insurance industry. We discuss her time as Queensland Chief Entrepreneur and how innovation and entrepreneurship can really create change.
Leanne was talking to me from Seattle and the sound quality is not as good as I would have liked. Nevertheless, it is an insightful, engaging and fun conversation!
From humble beginnings to successful IT careers with Madhu Sundararajan and Abhinav Raje
“Learning is the main skill of the future” is my favourite quote from the latest episode of the “Don’t just Survive, Thrive” podcast with Madhu Sundararajan and Abhinav Raje. In this episode, we talk about their journeys from humble beginnings in India to successful careers in Australia.
Every couple of years, Madhu asks himself if he is learning and if he is being useful. His role model is himself in 10 years so he looks forwards, not backwards, and has no regrets. Madhu and Abhi have a podcast called “Inspiring Ideas” which aims to inspire people and provide a better understanding of what is happening in the tech world.
We talk about the challenges of migrating to Australia from India including starting your career from scratch again and having no existing networks. Madhu advises new migrants to listen to Australian radio and also invest in your soft skills training not just your technical skills. Abhi says that the right mindset is imperative to overcome the challenges of moving to a new country. He advises that you should be highly active on LinkedIn with the right professionals in the country you are moving to.
We discuss emerging technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud and Data Science and how it is necessary to gain a better understanding and upgrade your skills in these four key areas. We talk about how emerging tech must always be managed with the risks on humanity and ethics at front of mind.
A Founder's Journey with Adam Amos of Robotic Systems
Adam Amos is Director of Robotic Systems, an engineering consultancy that specialises in accelerating the journey from initial idea to manufactured device. Robotic Systems brings together electronics, software and hardware to turn customers’ practical experience into game changing new products. Robotic Systems have also been ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
Nicola is a natural podcaster and knows how to bring the best out of her guests! Each episode is jam packed full of powerful insights! Love it ;)
Insightful and entertaining
Great podcast with really interesting speakers across a variety of fields.