Episode 51: Leverage Your Strengths with Cheryl Hayman 

Shivani Gupta (00:16)

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Shivani Gupta (00:39)

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Ask Shivani Podcast. Today I have a wonderful person who actually got connected to me by another person saying - Hey, have you thought about having Cheryl on your podcast? And when we looked at Cheryl's background, which you're about to meet, we thought absolutely, we have to have Cheryl here. Now she has a very long bio, let me tell you a little bit about her.

She's an experienced non-Executive Director, and remunerations and nominations committee chair. She is the current NED, as we call it, non-executive director on the boards of of Shriro Holdings, and also HGL. And she has also been recently appointed to the board of best on global foods. She's got a background and chatting accounting in Australia and New Zealand. She has done a lot of work and given a lot of her time away also in the not-for-profit sector. And she's a member of the Chief Executive Women, and sits on the policy and advocacy committee there. She has worked across consumer goods, bioscience investment, b2b, agribusiness, education, arts, and she's used a lot of a non-traditional path to the boardroom and provides a really different and diverse perspective and shares a lot of her leadership experience. And prior to the boardroom, she was a C suite marketing director, and led very large teams both locally as well as overseas. Outside of the boardroom. She's very passionate about mentoring people. She's been mentoring people for over 20 years. And she's also a mentor for women on boards. And also, her business (The Marketing Academy), lives in Sydney with a husband and two gorgeous daughters and adult. Welcome, Cheryl.

Cheryl Hayman (02:30)

Thank you, Shivani. I'm delighted to be here.

Shivani Gupta (02:33)

Oh, it's so great. Your CV honestly, I could have probably spoken about that the duration of the whole podcast recording here. And so, when we read that show, it's pretty impressive all the different things that you've done. But in our journey, as we speak about there's these highlights and lowlights, there's things that define who we are. And some of them are great experiences. Other times, they're pretty awful and woeful experiences. Could you tell us about some of your positive or negative, you know, your three or four major terms that you've had to get you to where you are today?

Cheryl Hayman (02:29)

Yeah, I think…. Thank you. That's a great question. I think that my overarching perspective on life is to be optimistic. So, I generally come from a position of saying yes to things, whether those are opportunities, whether those are scary things I get asked to do. So, I think early on, I've always had very clear mind and reasonably strong self-esteem. And I'm quite confident to back my choices. So, whenever I got asked if I would consider a particular role or opportunity, my inclination was always to say yes, and each one of those ended up being an incredible opportunity for me and for my career. And it's one of the things I say to emerging leaders, you know, always take opportunities that come your way unless there's a really good reason not to, because those kinds of zigs instead of Zags are what helped define us along the way, and being challenged is what makes you strong and fierce as a leader.

I think the other thing, the other thing I learned was when you've made a mistake to cut your losses early, so if you take the wrong role, I took a role once I did it for six or seven months, I really liked the role, but I wasn't digging a deep enough into what I had to offer. So, it wasn't overly fulfilling. Whilst I liked the product, I liked the business. So, I'd been told that if you made an error, you should get up, you know, six to 12 months is fine and legitimate to get out of something or a role that you're not happy with without damaging your career. And I find it really difficult to give things up so that for me, it was a quite a big learning piece to be able to set aside now actually, this isn't for me, I need to change. I think the other thing is, and I find this tested at times in the boardroom, and probably was also during my career, but I've got more reflection on it now is you have to stay completely true to your ethical principles. So, nobody, nobody will sit here and tell you they're not ethical everybody is but we all have different lenses by which certain things are or aren't acceptable. And I find at times, not often, at times my ethical lens is challenged and not because we're working outside, we're coloring outside the lines but because I'm having to deal in ways with people and things that are not comfortable for me and so I think you just have to constantly question where your principles lie and whether they're being challenged in the right or wrong way.

Shivani Gupta (05:42)

Yeah, absolutely and, you know, this leads me to my next question, like, when people come across challenges Cheryl, like, they'll deal with it differently. You know, some people follow a process, whether those issues are small, medium, large. Other times people have a philosophy or some people go right, when that happens, I'll take time. Do you have a process or a way that when things hit you whether I know you just spoke about the job after six months, you kind of knew it wasn't right? But you know, even now, you know, navigating through different boardrooms and mentoring people. So, when you come across that, how do you go about it? How do you deal with them? Do you have a mindset or philosophy or a process, or all of the above that you follow when doing that?

Cheryl Hayman (06:23)

I think there's two pieces. One is the really rational pragmatic analysis of what you're being asked to decide on or have a point of view on or whatever. The other is following your intuition. So, I have a really strong internal compass, that is more as you know, is more gut than brain. And, you know, as a marketer, you're trained, you know, which is my background, you are trained up to be equal parts, you know, intuitive, as well as pragmatic. So, I think you should follow your gut, as in life, whether it's a personal challenge, or opportunity or a professional learn. So, I think I like to, I'm very curious. So, I tend to work well, from a point of view of questioning. So, I'll ask questions, my version of interrogation, I guess, is kind of, to interrogate from a diplomatic and positive standpoint, which I think being curious and asking questions is a much more positive way to try and get to the nub of the bit, that might be not sitting well within you to try and understand whether your reaction is purely emotional, or whether there's something more to it. So, I think it's really that balance. And I think you have to learn to trust your instincts, and then go down that instinct hole with more pragmatic and rational questioning, to land on a position, but I, I will stick with something until I'm fully comfortable that I have it resolved in my mind. And that's not always, that doesn't always mean I get to convince everybody that my way is the only way. In fact, quite often, it's is the other way, but I just need to make sure I'm comfortable with the decision the group are making.

Shivani Gupta (08:12)

And you've achieved so much already in your life. When I look at your background Cheryl, like all the different boards. What about the future? You know, with all the things changing, I know you've been just come out of lockdown as well. When you look at the future, whether they be three 3, 5, 10 years out, what are some of the things you go, I really want to learn more about that, I really want to do that? Or there may even be other boards that you want to be on. So, what are some of the things that you know, imagine for yourself looking into the future?

Cheryl Hayman (08:45)

Yeah, I am described this, this part of my career, which is like the second part after the corporate part. I feel like on my board journey that I am, I've just graduated primary school, and I've entered high school. So, for me, you know, it's a never-ending journey. But I feel like I'm really at that second half of this particular journey. So, I am ready for and wanting, you know, bigger different boards, I'm extremely passionate, interested and pretty well versed are in the era of technology. So, I would love to be in that, you know, to have a board or a business opportunity that is tech enabled space. I believe that with a marketing and customer lens, you know, every board and every business has now finally realized they all have customers. And that people with a marketing and sales kind of background are terrific board members because they actually think about a business from the outside in.

So, I think there's a lot to be gained there. And there are enormous amounts of boardrooms right now that don't have people with my skills on them. So, I feel a bit like carrying the flag for some of my brethren as well because I get sought out to have a chat with by a lot of people that come out of the creative and communications industries and the revenue driving parts of the business, which is sales and marketing, and HR as well in there with people saying how do you do it because everybody wants accountants and lawyers and etc. And I say you need to work out how to frame up your skills and you need people to understand that you have a huge title lens on the title business. So, I've become quite a flagbearer, I guess for pushing for that version of inclusion and diversity on boards because I still think it's pretty scant. And there are a lot of enormously talented people out there who are finding it difficult to get a look in.

Shivani Gupta (10:33)

That's a really interesting thing that you've just said that, you know, often, it's a different way of looking at diversity and inclusion, isn't it? Because I do hear a lot about that on boards about, you know, we've got to have that accountant background, the law, the solicitors, and they're very, very important parts of governing and being on a board, but that it's almost a bit skewed away from sales and marketing, as you said. So, it almost that inclusion phase and inclusive phase refers to the type of board members in terms of what you do, too. That's a really interesting way to put it.

Cheryl, you know different people have books or philosophies or ways that they live their lives. And sometimes a family generated, other times it's things that we've studied or learned to come across, what are some of the guidelines or philosophies that you live by when it comes to, you know, particularly areas of leadership. But, tell me a little bit more about yeah, how you operate and what you live by.

Cheryl Hayman (11:27)

I live by the premise that everybody has something worth listening to. And that you need to be really open to different people's points of view, and also different people's ways of working. Because we all have different styles. So, I learned early on, I was lucky to be had my first nine years at Unilever, which is a brilliant training ground. But we learned a lot of things. And one of the things we learned was that people respond and react differently to the way you work with them. And that was a really valuable lesson.

I think way back to my childhood, my father in particular, had a very strong ethical lens, and he put huge amounts of value on work, and the work ethic, and the value of education. And I'm a lifelong learner, I don't go to university necessarily to do degrees anymore, but I am constantly learning. So given I've been out of the corporate world for a long time, I've really upskilled in a lot of areas just because I'm interested. So, I've done courses and things to do with drones, I've looked at artificial intelligence. Clearly, I've stayed abreast of technology. So, I think it's important also to live by a philosophy of wanting to stay contemporary, in today's world. And I have two daughters, who now you know, 20 and 25. But in the journey of bringing up children, and they've been very, you know, tech driven, but in the journey of being bringing up kids, you have a lens on what is contemporary, what is the way the world is operating. And that's both personal professionally. And I think that, you know, sometimes it's sitting around a boardroom is the same as sitting around a school classroom, because you're dealing with different people, different personalities, and no matter our age, we all behave differently. So, I think I've really, I'm a very inclusive person by nature, I feel that it's important that we are all generous with what we give, I think you get back what you give in life, and you should aim to give more than you get. And again, if whether that's intuitive, or something you have to actually work out, but you don't get very far by just taking constantly. And I've never seen that be a successful skill in a business leader or person actually. But I think, you know, one of the quotes I love is that “strong women don't have attitudes, they have standards.” And I think, you know, we all have our own version of those things. And I got some from my parents. And then I've developed some through my friendship groups, through school, and then onward through business. And I think having standard that you live by, and stay true to is really important to being feeling comfortable that you're being authentic with yourself.

Shivani Gupta (14:11)

That's beautiful. I've been doing a lot of reading on boundaries lately. And absolutely, that's in there. You know, it's a similar thing, it's your, how you define your boundaries, or your parameters or your ways of saying, you know, here are my standards in terms of what you do. And then having other people respect them sort of around you.

And Cheryl, you give a lot of yourself away to people, you know, obviously you've got daughters and family and you sit on a number of boards. What about rituals for your own wellness? What are some of the things that you do, whether they be physical or emotional, you know, you might do them every day, or you might do things once a year. Tell us a little bit about your rituals and things that you do to manage your own wellness.

Cheryl Hayman (14:56)

Yeah, I'm really good at that. So, for me, so I have, you know, I'm a very social person, and I'm an absolute passionate advocate of the arts. So, I would go to at least two if not more shows in a month. Theater, I would probably do a film in there somewhere. So, I love storytelling. I guess I have a real passion for crime and crime novels and so on. So that's an outlet for me. Again, I think because I've a curious mind, I like the challenge of a good detective or murder mystery. I get outdoors, you know, as much as I can the dogs, you know, get to the country if I can. I'm not a gym junkie at all. I do you know, a bit of Pilates, but effectively, I just make time for myself and I have a lot of friends and I adore my friends and I make a lot of time to see my friends. So they are, you know, I always say my girlfriends in particular, like, sisters to me, you know, and they provide incredible nourishment for my soul. And I think we reciprocate that. So, I think just surrounding yourself with wonderful people, and whether that's you watching incredible artists perform, or you being in an environment that just makes you happy, is important. And to not have to talk about work all the time or not, you know, have to talk about your family necessarily, but just to be as a woman, you know, almost a young woman again, you know, enjoying life. And then we travel a lot as a family and also my husband now as a couple. And I love travel. I love cultures, I love people who are different and living different ways. And I find that another great way to learn. And you do take some of those experiences into the boardroom as well in varied ways.

Ask Shivani (16:53)

That's fascinating. We have a storytelling, I love it, you can relate the crime to solving problems and taking them into the board place. But I think I've quite seen that connection before Cheryl, I've really liked that. It's like the reason I'm this, this is just homework for the boardroom. Yeah, and I had the privilege, my daughter is really artistic. And she's only 12 about to turn 13 but has featured in a few musicals which you she love. So, before Sydney went into lockdown, we flew into Sydney, to watch Hamilton, which was just amazing. It was such an amazing experience. So, she knows every word of every song. And again, it's that, you know, I just noticed how her mind opens up and how creative she is around that, you know, around that musicals and films on an ash as well.

Cheryl Hayman (17:49)

Really, the arts and for me crime novels, etc. Just ways to, you know, take your mind out of normal life and into something different.

Shivani Gupta (17:58)

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I do that with movies, I tend to escape watching movies. But anything live is pretty extraordinary. Anyway, I think as you as you spoke about there. Cheryl, if people want to follow you follow some of the work that you're doing. Where's the best place for people to find you and connect with you?

Cheryl Hayman (18:17)

Well, I use LinkedIn a lot. So, I will write blogs. I will write commentaries on things at times. There are any other prior podcasts I've done. So, LinkedIn for me, and it's not just straight under my name, Cheryl Heyman is there. I also do a little bit of Twitter not so much. I tend to use Twitter more when I'm at a conference or a learning environment where I want to share the polls that somebody else is providing to me. And, you know, I do run an Instagram site, but that's mostly personal. So, I think if it's a business piece, the best place to follow me is on LinkedIn. I do have a website to https://cherylhayman.com.au/ , as well, which has more about my background and bio and people can reach out through there or my emails on everything that I've just mentioned as well.

Shivani Gupta (19:10)

That's amazing. Cheryl, thank you for being on here today.

Cheryl Hayman (19:15)

It's a pleasure. I hope it's been useful.

Shivani Gupta (19:17)


I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.