Human on the Inside with Sendle’s Laura Hill
We’re big believers in the power of human skills. But don’t just take our word for it – the evidence for excellence powered by human (‘soft’) skills is everywhere! In this engaging, ever-enlightening series, we speak with industry leaders, innovators and game-changers to learn a little about their personal career journeys, and how human-led strategies, philosophies and cultures are proving a force for good in their working worlds …
Welcome Laura, and thanks for stepping into the #SuccessIsHuman Spotlight! You’re the Managing Director of Sendle – Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral shipping service, designed for small businesses. In 1 sentence (ok, we’ll give you 3), what does your role entail?
I lead Sendle’s entire Australian operation, which includes our ever-growing national delivery network of more than 3,000 drivers and 900 drop-off locations around the country. I am focused on evolving Sendle’s shipping products and services for small business owners, to fulfil all their delivery needs. I also oversee our courier network, sales and eCommerce partnerships, including eBay and Shopify, to help streamline the shipping process and propel us into a new phase of growth, in a sustainable way.
Prior to Sendle, you were with Gumtree for almost 6 years, and earlier, spent almost a decade in media advertising/publishing for companies including Fairfax and Nine. How does all this work speak to your personal purpose and what drives you as an individual?
I’ve worked in industries and with companies during significant periods of digital transformation, leading to extraordinary and profound improvements in the customer experience. During my time at Fairfax Digital (now Nine Network), I was involved in the company’s transition to digital, which fuelled my passion for the role of technology in enhancing the end user experience.
Prior to Sendle, I spearheaded Gumtree’s advertising and witnessed first hand the rise of online retailers and marketplaces, which propelled my love for eCommerce and sustainability. Gumtree’s business model promotes the sustainable benefits of buying and selling pre-loved items, and it has driven my passion for working with brands that truly put sustainability at their core.
Joining the passionate team at Sendle, Australia’s first 100% carbon neutral delivery service and technology B Corp, was the next logical step. Our B Corp values – to be a force for good in the world and make a positive impact on the community and environment – is something I endeavour to bring to work every day, through our innovation, partnerships and people.
Tell us a little about your personal education pathway/s – what led you to where you are now? How closely do your formal qualifications match your current career?
After high school, I studied for an Undergraduate Degree and received a Bachelor of Business and Communications. My Degree was very comprehensive, and while not necessarily directly related to what I do now, it gave me a great foundation for a career focused on working in commercial positions.
I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and enhancing yourself through the discipline of study, so during Sydney’s first COVID lockdown, I completed a Graduate Certificate in Finance. I believe that embracing ways to constantly enhance your skills and knowledge areas can help you move into different opportunities throughout your career, as I did from advertising to operations.
While my formal education has helped me in various ways, my personal experience coming from a family that owns and operates a small business has helped me understand the real-world challenges that small business owners face. At Sendle, I’m able to bring this empathy and insight to evolve our products and services, to ensure we meet small businesses’ shipping needs.
If you could share one piece of career advice to your 21 year old self it would be …
Take all the opportunities you can, even if you think you’re not ready.
Maximising the potential of individuals, communities and businesses through the power of human skills is the reason Maxme exists. Can you tell us a little about the role and / or value of human skills in your workplace right now?
The world of work is always evolving, driven by societal and technological factors, but COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated and intensified those changes. As a result, the skills that people need have changed. While some are technical, such as understanding and interpreting data, many are ‘soft’ or ‘human’ skills like empathy and creativity.
For Sendle, we’re always looking for people with strong creativity, agility and resilience, who can view problems from different angles and bring fresh ideas to the table. With the pace of disruption and major global events, empathy and kindness are also key to connecting teams.
Self Awareness sets the critical foundation for all Maxme learning experiences. With that said … what’s your strongest trait / personal super power?
My work colleagues often tell me that I’m a natural when it comes to bringing teams together and building morale in a company. I have always believed that no matter my role, I want to be engaged in what everyone is doing, and available for people who need my support and advice.
And on the flip side, what’s one human / ‘soft’ skill you’ve had to really work on improving over the course of your career?
I’m extremely outcome-driven, so I like to cut to the chase when sending emails. With remote work, where we miss a lot of the human elements of communication, I have to remind myself to not cut to the chase right away but check in with my teammates, with a simple ‘how are you doing’ first!
If you could share one piece of career advice with recent secondary or tertiary graduates, or other individuals keen to join a company like Sendle, what would it be?
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was to never stop asking questions. This relentless curiosity is something I bring to work every day and encourage others to do the same. Another one is to fail fast and learn fast. Making mistakes – and learning from them – is an important part of our growth. I believe in a workplace culture where the team has the freedom to fail but can learn something from each failure, to succeed faster the next time.
You’ve been granted approval to add one University graduate to your team, but have 100 applicants, all with outstanding academic results. How do you find your perfect candidate – what are you looking for?
When we look for new team members, we’re looking for individuals who exemplify our five values; humble, honest, happy, hungry, and high-performing. Beyond experience and academic performance, we really do benchmark our future (and present) employees on these values.
In the words of John Dewey, “education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” What’s next on your #learning agenda?
Love this quote! It truly aligns with my ethos for lifelong learning. As I step deeper into my role as Managing Director at Sendle, I am focusing on transitioning from a specialist to a generalist; becoming more of a problem solver than having only specific role-related skills.