Nicole McInnes - Making Meaningful Connections
Nicole McInnes is the Managing Director of eHarmony - a dating site based on scientific research into relationship happiness; is fascinated with people and how they connect.
Married to another marketer, who she describes as a ‘modern man who is super organized and run’s the house’, Nicole has a full-on life juggling her career, marriage and two young boys who are 7 and 8.
“The little one still wakes me up in the middle of the night, so there’s a lot of FUN stuff to deal with.”
With over 22 years of experience in marketing and advertising, Nicole combines a unique blend of creativity with a deep understanding of data. Having worked at Dell, Amex, Ogilvy, Pandora and now eHarmony, Nicole believes that marketing must at least enhance people’s lives, but at best can change the world, especially if you are lucky enough to be working for a company that delivers happiness through love at its core.
How do you manage a full-time leadership role with devoting time with your family?
I'm one of the few that has a husband that’s super organised and runs the house. We outsource 30 per cent and my husband does about 50 percent. If he hadn’t been like that there's no way I'd be here. I’d probably be in a part time, middle management role without the stress that you face as you go further up.
“If you don't have somebody else helping it just doesn't work”
I've read the Bain & Co research about why women are not making it to the top and it often comes down to it being too hard to manage the home, the kids and expect to be successful at work all at the same time.
Women traditionally managed the house and kids, meals and the health of the whole ecosystem, so my mum was horrified when I made the decision to outsource. It wasn’t easy to navigate the concerns of previous generations, perhaps even more so coming from good-italian-stock, but I’ve realised that when it comes to being true to what you want out of your work, nothing is more important than connecting with my children and doing what works for us.
There's been moments I’ve had to stop and take time out with my children because I suddenly get a reality check that I need to tilt the balance so I’m spending enough quality time with them. The really cool thing is that I don’t have to stress over the cooking and bathtime (the stuff that I don’t like anyway), I get to come home and do the more relaxing bits.
What are some of the hardest or most valuable lessons you’ve learnt?
I used to believe some sort of justice needed to be fought for in the world. One of the greatest lessons in leadership, is recognising that our job is to serve others and have others see their own strengths and weaknesses which of course came with my own realisation that not all battles are mine to fight.. I also realised my view of “justice” was often very different from the next person, so it was liberating to be freed from righting the world’s wrongs. It also freed me up to focus on the many imperfections I had to work on to progress my own journey.
Perhaps the most important lesson has been the strength that comes from our ability to face our own shadow and accept the ‘bad’ side of ourselves.
Human beings are complex characters - we use amazing tricks to maintain an innocent persona; but the truth is we don’t have the freedom to express all of ourselves for fear of what other people will think - we don’t like to express anger for fear of being labelled a bully; and we don’t like to show our emotional vulnerabilities for fear of being labelled weak.
Working with an executive coach, I discovered the importance of looking at and owning your dark side. Understanding why it’s there and where it came from gave me enormous power in finding that you don’t have to run from your darkside by pretending you’re perfect or blameless - which just leds to inertia, but rather embrace it into one whole perfectly imperfect creature.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
It was a long time ago but my degree was really hard – 5 years of everything from mechanical engineering, stats, accounting and marketing to life drawing, 3D computer programming and manufacturing science; so completing it was a real achievement.
Since then I think I’m most proud of moving successfully from being an art director to the most ROI driven marketing role in Australia at the time – at Dell. I worked hard and it paid off in gaining so much knowledge but also lessons on how to motivate and bring teams together to do amazing things.
If you had a magic wand and you could gift others with Compassion, Courage, Confidence, Collaboration or Contribution, what would it be and why?
Courage – so much is not done due to fear, love is not found, inventions are not made and books are not written. Violence and prejudice also stem from fear, so I would want everyone to have courage.
Without fear all good things can flourish - like compassion which was my first instinct choice; but I realise compassion and harmony can only happen without fear and with courage we can rise above that state.