Conversations: Natalie Goldman, FlexCareers

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While FlexCareers draws on the untapped talent pool of Australia’s 2.1 million career women, going forward, CEO Natalie Goldman sees it enabling businesses to realise the power and potential of flexible employment.

Tell us about FlexCareers.

FlexCareers is changing the way careers are pursued by redefining ‘success’, rewriting talent management and realigning workplace expectations within the current workforce. It is a disruptive online talent matching platform connecting skilled people with progressive employers offering flexible work.

Our initial focus is to tap the underutilised talent pool of 2.1 million career women. However the market is shifting, and flexibility is something that more and more people are wanting. In the meantime, we are enabling Australia’s workforce of the future and delivering gender diversity in scale. FlexCareers also offers a fully integrated suite of products, including its proprietary ‘Relaunchships’ program, which facilitates a return to work after an extended career gap.

How are Australian businesses responding to the growing demand for flexible work arrangements?
More and more candidates are seeking flexible employment, and with such a small talent pool in Australia, businesses are responding by offering more flexibility. But attracting talent is not the only reason why companies are focusing on implementing flexible work practices.

It is also about retaining talent and engagement – when employees are happy and engaged, they are more likely to stay, be highly productive, profitable and give discretionary effort.

It’s also the future of work conversation – the way we work is changing due to changes in technology, markets and more. Progressive employers need to be agile and responsive, and flexible working is one of the key enablers to creating such a workforce that breeds creativity and innovation.

Finally, it’s also about diversity and inclusion. Flexibility creates a highly diverse workforce. This addresses numerous issues businesses face, such as women who are not fully participating in the labour market due to barriers of being the primary caregivers or perceptions around women and work. It also encourages diversity as not everyone fits the same mould and it allows us to be human at work.

How is technology assisting the adoption of flexible work among employers?
Technology is one of the fundamental aspects to implementing successful flexible work cultures and arrangements along with trust and communication. Technology enables working from wherever we are and whenever. I often say that my office is in the bag; between my laptop and smart phone, all technology is cloud-based and we can access each other through communication channels such as Slack. Without technology, we wouldn’t be able to collaborate, communicate or create in real time from wherever we are.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in the formative stage of FlexCareers?
There is a growing demand for what we are offering, but only so many of us are able to connect with employers – which is a great problem to have. From the candidate’s side, all interactions are primarily using the digital interface – hence, that can be managed easily. Although we have a robust AI platform, technology isn’t what ‘wows’ people. It’s the human connection, and that requires presence and time, and there are only so many hours in the day.

What does success mean to you?
Having so many flexible jobs that surpass non-flexible jobs… everyone wants to have some agency over where, when and how they work – we are working hard to achieve this.

What is the toughest decision you have made and how did you handle it?
One of my colleagues had a great idea about a product line for FlexCareers. However, we didn’t have the capital nor bandwidth to focus on it, so I had to say no. The truth is we still may very well do it, but timing is everything.

If you were to start over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing…we have learnt from our mistakes, and everything happens for a reason. We are still learning but open for others to provide their guidance at all times.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur now has the association of something cool and aspirational. The reality is that it isn’t glamorous but full of hard work, tough decisions and lots of pressure. Not everyone is made for this kind of work. At the same time, it is also incredibly rewarding and the best thing ever; I love what I do and jump out of bed each day energised and excited about the possibility. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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