Interview: Elise Fritsch
When Elise Fritsch left high school to start work she, like many young women, was exposed to a world she wasn’t prepared for. Yes, it offered the freedom and power of making money but it also came with a whole new set of challenges including workplace harassment, the ‘glass ceiling’, conflict and having to deal with a strict hierarchy.
These early experiences are the driving force behind Elise’s mission to create a recruitment and job search site that focuses on women, and aligns with companies that encourage women to soar in their chosen field.
It was a true delight to catch up with Elise, the founder and director of Work It Girl Australia (www.workitgirl.com.au)
Elise, can you describe your company for us?
We are a job search site and career lounge that focuses on and targets women in the workforce; and we align ourselves with companies that are looking to further their diversity levels and really grow their females into leadership positions.
Our key initiative is job advertising, however to maintain our client interaction we also focus on recruitment. Our target market is girls girls girls! Statistically however, our audience is 18 – 45 year old females, Australia wide.
We launched in 2016 and we are loving every minute of the journey!
Please tell us more about your background and the things that stand out for you as bold actions that have led you to where you are now?
When I finished high school I went straight into the workforce full-time. I was exposed to a world we really aren’t prepared for when we exit high school. I loved the freedom and power of making money however it came with a whole new set of challenges.
I was exposed to all types of difficult situations including interviewing (what was that!?) recruitment processes and procedures, workplace harassment (eek) including sexual harassment, the ‘glass ceiling’ along with conflict, hierarchy and the list goes on.
These things don’t go away throughout our lives, so my mission was to create a recruitment and job search site that focused on women, educating young women entering the workforce, educating women who are looking to transition or change careers all whilst experiencing a pleasurable job search experience.
We align ourselves with companies that are all for #girlpower, smashing glass ceilings and really encouraging women to soar in their chosen field.
After 10 years of employment, over 20 jobs and 5 different career paths I knew I was never going to be led to my passion unless I took the leap of faith and started my own company. I thank my different experiences (horrendous AND great) and my different career paths as they all prepared me for my entrepreneurial journey. I like to say that all my experiences were for the business memory bank! I was fortunate that this idea came to me long ago and knowing this was my path in life….it was just a matter of when (and how!).
How did you learn how to be successful in business?
What goes right for someone else in business may not be right for you. I first launched my company at 24 and failed miserably! The second time I launched my company it finally had much more of an organic approach – that’s when you know it’s the right timing!
My business partner and I were long-time friends (now engaged! #yay.) My key take away from the first time I tried to launch Work It Girl to the second time is, if it really is your purpose in life you will know. Nothing will stop you. You could have all the jobs in the world, but if they don’t feed your soul, like maybe a business or a hobby-turn business would, then you know you need to launch out on your own.
Did you access coaching or business education of any kind?
I have had multiple mentors throughout my career. Two men and two women – all through different parts of my 20s. Now I have taken a break from them! As I have found because of the generation gap a lot of the advice was not applicable to me and my ‘digital business’.
Be resilient, be focused, trust your gut. This is the amazing advice I took away from my mentors but the real nitty gritty core answers you tend to seek – you need to learn on your own!! Which you do! Day by day. There isn’t a day that goes by that has been smooth sailing yet. One win is still bombarded with two or three small fails. But you need to be resilient! And have a good sense of humour!
The absolute BEST advice from a mentor I received however was to do my MBA. Not having an undergrad degree I thought I wouldn’t get in, let alone finish it with a double degree. Goes to show that when you immerse yourself in education, and really put yourself out there, our minds can do anything! It really prepared me mentally for my business.
What business education would you recommend to other women starting out in business today?
Whilst I have self-taught myself entrepreneurial studies for the past seven years, I would recommend to anyone wanting to develop their business acumen to do some formal study. Just be prepared. It’s hard work!
What changes or new projects are afoot for you in 2017?
This is a fabulous question, because it being the beginning of the year, we are all full of inspiration and motivation. I have shaken the business model up a few times because as any entrepreneur would be aware – start-ups are ALL about trial and error. Remember to not take away from what makes you strive though, your purpose and your WHY. If you can execute these AND make money well – then I believe you have hit the jackpot!
For Work It Girl, 2017 is about pushing three key initiatives: recruiting and placing women into companies that promote and practice the same values in diversity and gender equality as we promote on our site, affiliating ourselves with female driven sites and companies – when we work together great things are accomplished - and finally, developing our candidate database and members, providing educational content to our readers which in turn will increase our brand awareness throughout Australia.
My personal goal is to really get myself out in front of these young women! There is a large emphasis online now on becoming ‘entrepreneurs’ and ditching the 9-5, however that takes great patience, time, tolerance and resilience.
Corporate will always be here and they can bring a sense of community and security that entrepreneurship doesn’t. We have to continue to nurture our employees and see them flourish! I mean … these women ARE our next gen CEOs! Right?!?! #workitgirl!
CONTACTS + CREDITS:
Interview by Gretchen Hillhouse 2017
You can find out more, or contact Elise, at www.workitgirl.com.au