Personal Branding and Communications – My Story, Sarah Makris
It was 1998 and the internet was only seven years old when I began working for gift shopping website wishlist.com. I was part of a very small team and we worked from a tiny shopfront in North Melbourne opposite the famous Victoria Market. My role was to select products and convince the suppliers to provide it on consignment. As well as this, I wrote the sales copy and product descriptions for the site. It was a wonderful introduction to what would become the future of business and see first hand the hard work and commitment that goes into online start-ups.
By the time I started working for Coles Myer (CML) in Public Relations many large corporates were either investing in or launching their own online businesses. As a result, I was involved in marketing many new online startups, some successful and some not.
Working for Coles Myer was fantastic and I held various senior Corporate Affairs roles with responsibility for the investor relations, government, media and leadership communications for various business divisions.
While I was there I worked on numerous mergers, acquisitions, business integrations, re-brands, and new business ventures. I also advised on leadership communications and internal strategy.
I was lucky to work with some incredibly smart and talented women and have an amazing boss who remained a mentor for years after I left the company.
After leaving CML I moved to National Australia Bank managing shareholder and internal communications for the company. My responsibilities included managing a large communications team and transforming the internal communications channels such as the NAB TV station, which produced numerous live and pre-recorded shows every week.
I also advised on CEO and other leadership communications and major change programs impacting the organisation and its reputation.
For 12 years I bounced out of bed to my high energy, high-pressure roles. I enjoyed the early morning rises to get across all the media and investor reports for the day, the late nights strategising with colleagues and managing complex issues. My career progression was fast, exciting and full of intense highs.
Writing and blogging a new found love
It’s taken me many years to consider myself a writer. While I don’t write books (yet) a career in communications means that writing is a large part of my day. Whether its speeches, media releases or leaderships plans there is never a shortage of writing to be done.
When I first began my career in public relations I was convinced that someone was going to find out that I was a bad writer and would sack me. My first boss was an ex-journalist who had carved out a cushy role for himself in Corporate PR. He’d earned his stripes as a cadet journalist in the 80’s which was known as the toughest of stomping grounds in which to learn. He was sharp and knowledgeable but he was underutilized and bored.
He was responsible for managing me and six other young ambitious women starting out on their careers in PR. It was not unusual for him to scream down the phone at us if we ever presented him with a draft that had a typo or a misplaced comma. Pens were sometimes thrown in frustration or worse, public embarrassment at a team meeting. The message from him was loud and clear – writing was our core skill and therefore no mistakes would be tolerated!”
You may think this seems harsh and at the time I’m sure I was scared as hell especially since I already thought I wasn’t any good. But it honestly made me work harder at learning my craft and as a result, I always took it very seriously. As with everything in life, the more experience one has, the more confident one feels and the better we get.
Starting a Family
After starting a family in 2009, I quickly realised the travel and long hours of corporate life were not for me. I wanted to be at home with my 2 little boys and I enjoyed my time with them. I found this time very challenging, but incredibly rewarding.
As much as I loved being at home, I really missed the mental stimulation of work and I felt real pressure from myself to stay relevant and employable.
During this time I consumed hundreds of books and podcasts about everything from business and politics to health and wellness. I loved hearing the stories from smart women who were taking risks and having a go and it inspired me to find my passion.
Finding my Passions
I have always loved fashion and art. As a child, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer so during my time off work I decided to study a design course. It was a great thing to tick off my bucket list and while I enjoyed learning about what it takes to be a fashion designer I learned that what I really love is fashion illustration. It is now a creative outlet that I make time for in my life.
I also decided to create a fashion blog with my bestie, which was fantastic fun and enabled me to learn so many new skills and meet lots of interesting creative people. My biggest learning from this time is that I realised that I love to write – who would have thought!
Trying to battle baby weight I began lifting weights 2-3 times a week. Having tried loads of different fitness programs over the years, a new workout promising no cardio, had me hooked from the start. The program I do involves lifting really heavyweights like the weightlifters do. Lots of bench press, squats, and deadlifts!
Two years down the track I still enjoy it and I feel stronger and better than ever. The reason I enjoy weight lifting so much, apart from losing fat, is the mental power required. When you are deadlifting a weight over 110 kilos and every part of your body is screaming STOP! it’s your mental strength that keeps you going. I also enjoy being part of a great community of disciplined and inspiring people who are committed to being the best they can be. You can read more about the surprising way bodybuilding has changed my life here.
Why I started this blog
The reason I started this blog is that I am passionate about working with ambitious and intelligent women who are ready to take that next step in their business or career.
I use my knowledge and experience to help them to develop their personal brand and communication skills so they can achieve their goals faster.
You can read more about my blog here
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Thanks and I look forward to getting to know you.