Meet Sarah Nally (Roocroft), the ultimate go-getter who loves challenging societal norms. Her innate sense of curiosity in life has driven her “eclectic, creative and fun” career journey, and ultimately she’s now launched several successful businesses.
We love how during her second parental leave she made ‘reverse maternity leave’ work for her, and why she always encourages other women to experiment to find the ‘real flexibility’ that works for them.
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I started out exploring everything from retail to accounting while I was at school, but ended up playing it pretty safe at the beginning of my career. As I got older and learnt more lessons, I curiously gathered new skills, experiences and exposure to jobs and ways of making money that intrigued me. All paths led to the ecosystem I enjoy today!
I studied business HR/marketing at Monash University, started in recruitment, moved through to resource management at CommBank where I ended up running the resource management function for enterprise services (6,000 resources). It was then I pitched ‘Wired for Wonder’ and became one of CommBank’s first intrepreneurs. I then curiously said yes to MD at Dunstan Baby, I was Technology Advisory at a copyright agency and I founded Sienna Baby (beautiful, soft sole baby shoes). I’ve since become an event producer full-time, passionately producing Wired For Wonder, Nurture Her and Unplugged Fiji.
So the journey has been very eclectic, creative and fun!
Congratulations on starting so many of your own businesses! You’ve said that you are “on a mission to change people’s minds”. What do you mean by that? And what is the common purpose behind all of your businesses?
The common thread for me is wonder. By wonder, I mean curiosity. That space between what we know for real (science) and what we don’t understand yet (mystic stuff). I have an extremely curious mind and I am obsessed with helping people see their own potential and strengths.
That is why I produce events. For me there is something magical that happens when we go somewhere new and connect with people, real people and have real conversations. I absolutely LOVE these wonder moments.
You have two gorgeous children. How has becoming a mother changed your perspective on life?
Becoming a mum changed my life. It opened up my creativity and inspired me to think differently about who I am, what legacy I wanted to leave, and how I wanted to create extreme flexibility so I could spend more time with my incredible babies. They have motivated me to continue to explore polarity, flexibility, equality, to role model my values, and teach them how to live with a growth mindset.
You did a ‘reverse maternity leave’ when you were at Commonwealth Bank with your second child. Can you explain what reverse maternity leave is and why it worked for you?
Yes! I experimented to see what was possible. I had Wired for Wonder coming up and didn’t want to hand over to anyone (selfishly it is such an amazing program), so I spoke to my manager about working flexibly from home after the birth and then taking four months off when Stella was older (and cuter). I took her to board meetings, TEDxSydney, TEDxMelbourne, and Wired for Wonder. It was so exciting for me to feel like a role model for women, to show them they can mix work and babies and do it their way!
You are a big believer of extreme flexibility. Why do you encourage other women to experiment to find the real flexibility that works for them?
We live in a world that is navigating the tensions of equality and we have a long way to go. I believe each individual must find what works for them and pitch it. ASK! Find your happy!
I have experimented with flexibility for over ten years and I am still refining it! Experimentation, openness, communication and growth mindset are keys for success!
Where do you see your career going next? What is one dream you have that you have yet to accomplish?
I am writing books, creating online masterclasses and look forward to working with kids. I want to produce an epic and life changing event for kids: something that inspires them to realise that they can do anything and be anything they want to be.
Favourite time of the day is…when I get to have an audience-free toilet break (mums get these occasionally).
I’m happiest when…my kids are happy and I have a clear inbox (impossible to have both at once).
I’m addicted to…my iPhone, great Chardonnay and meditating every day.