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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
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helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Nicole Stirling
7 Questions with Nicole Stirling

Name: Nicole Stirling

Current title: Marketing Consultant

Current organisation: Stirling Marketing

A B2B marketing leader with 15+ years’ experience working for technology companies, Sitecore, Acquia and TechnologyOne across Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and Japan. Nicole is now helping tech start ups and scale ups around the world to grow their revenue through marketing.

As a marketing consultant, Nicole develops and executes go-to-market strategies within tight budgets that drive demand, build pipeline, grow revenue, and enhance the company’s brand.

7 Questions with Nicole Stirling

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

As a leader of a small business, the most challenging component to date has been deciding when to bring in others to assist and when I have the time and the interest to manage the workload myself. It's a real balancing act between doing the tasks I love, procrastinating on the ones I don't and seeking the expertise of others.

2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?

After 15 years in corporate and regional marketing roles in tech companies, I was struggling to find a new full time role in Brisbane that offered flexibility and new challenges. Moving wasn't an option for me. I decided to give marketing consulting a try since it seemed to offer variety and flexible working hours. I still hedged my bets in those first few months, applying for FTE positions but in the end that was completely unnecessary.

I fell in love with marketing consulting for tech companies. It's fast paced, agile, flexible and a whole lot of fun. One day I'm working on designing a marketing strategy and the next I'm designing emails, social posts and hosting webinars. The work is diverse and exciting.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Every day is different. I have clients based in the US, Canada, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand and the UK which means my hours can be pretty skewed. Some days, I start at 5am, and other days I start at 11am and finish at 8pm. I structure my work day around the meetings, but I'm also careful to prioritise a social life and I never miss my exercise - whether that be Ironman training or walking the dogs. And it's a good thing I live in a hot part of Australia when it makes sense to rise at 4am to avoid running in 30 degree weather.

I keep postit notes and Trello to track my to-do list, and I try to tackle a client at a time - sometimes this is just one per day, other times it is 2 clients per day.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

It's always about communication - and there's no such thing as over communicating but it's very easy to under communicate with colleagues, team members and managers.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I read more running and exercise books than I do leadership ones. My recommendation is to check out Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor. She's a marathoner with a history of failure and success - and her book talks to how her mindset changed her experiences with exercise and people. It's a great read for anyone managing people or a team.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

I don't see leadership as built but as setting an example. My grandmother wasn't a manager but she did manage a household and I always like to consider how she'd feel about how I treat people. That's the example I try to set inside and outside of my workplace.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?

Leadership means having incredibly difficult conversations and one unforgettable moment was advising a colleague (and friend) I'd worked with for 3 years that her role was being made redundant. It was a terrible moment for both of us, one that continued for a week but I feel my openness about the situation, how valuable she had been to my team ensured we kept our friendship. I'm still waiting on the opportunity to work together again.

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