The Mumpreneur Project: Melina Lipkiewicz
Your friends refer to you as: Mel, Lippy and PlanB
Job title and where you work: CEO, Leadership Coach at PeopleQ managing one employee being myself
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?:
Interesting, I dropped out of Uni 6 months after starting and found a job in admin straight away. I then realised I can’t earn more money without doing something that meant more to me. I did many other things during this period, including being a part time lecturer, selling Tupperware and divorcing as a result of an unhappy marriage.
Fast forward 13 years (which consisted of part time study, moving jobs & industry, divorcing and finding love again and re-marrying) I gave birth to my first child, Tayla. I went back to work part-time when she was 6 months and Oliver was born 9 months later. I then took on leading a team that was failing in all things, built the team back up and worked over 50 hours every week to yield in impressive results. I then got the title I had been searching for – General Manager, a lot of recognition, great bonuses yet I felt miserable and unfulfilled.
I was running through my life like I was running a marathon every week. I engaged a nanny because it was impossible for my husband and I to both have careers. During this time cooking a meal in the kitchen was a novelty. My husband’s business underwent a massive change which resulted in an enormous amount of stress. During this same period, we decided to sell our family home, it sold within 3 hours and we had to be out in 4 weeks. I was now working 70 hours a week. Somewhere in this period I hit breaking point. I missed my kids Christmas plays, choir’s performances, sporting events and swimming carnivals.
To top it off- my cousin who was my age was dying of cancer. I went to visit him and as I knew it wouldn’t be long, I was “flying out that afternoon” and rushed to hospital to see him one last time. I recall asking what he was looking at. He turned and quietly said “nothing, I’m waiting to die”. That moment was my wake-up call. 4 weeks later I resigned, 8 weeks later I was unemployed with no plan. 8 weeks after that I decided on a whim to do an EQ certification program with sixseconds, and that’s when my coaching journey began.
I haven’t looked back, 2.5 years later I have PeopleQ, the business is building momentum, I just launched my Facebook page, and I am here for every moment that means something to my children and family. I haven’t missed a sporting or music event since – in fact, next week will be the first event I will miss because of work. Now I am present. Conscious. Calm. Here. Aware. And holy-moley, you hear so much more when you are present to the people around you.
What is your favourite thing about being a mama?
The love. Watching their personality develop. Hugging them. Listening to their ideas and being there for them. Being astonished by how they are a mirror reflecting your behaviours back at you. Watching them do amazing things at school, in music, in sport. When my son strokes my hair and puts his hand around me or when my daughter (who is taller than me) curls up on me so I can hug her. I can’t stop at one. Having children is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life.
How has being a mama changed your perspective on life?
My empathy and compassion has evolved and developed after having children. My patience has grown tremendously. I believe unconditional love is achievable. I’m not as self-centred, I still focus on me, it’s just balanced now. I understand the importance of being present, truly listening to what others have to say.
And I often say leading teams is no different to raising children. You have to be selfless, listen deeply, be empathic, connect deeply, give the right advice and support at the right time, lead by example and have tough love conversations.
In your opinion, do you believe you can really “have it all” when it comes to being a mum and having a career?
Yes I do, I think I am a living example of it. The stress that lead to me leaving corporate life and starting my own business eventuated from 3 factors;
1. One of our businesses (external to my career) created a domino effect of change and stress
2. Being from Adelaide career opportunities are limited, so you had to travel if you wanted a career. I think if I didn’t travel as much, I would have survived corporate life. And, if I had known back then what I know now, I would have been mindful of a balanced life, where physical and emotional wellbeing are the priority.
3. I lost my passion for the job, because I was driven by external factors. Today I’m driven by a noble goal, and that helps me be resilient, to keep building PeopleQ.
How do you stay sane being a working mama?
Physical exercise. I religiously hike Tuesday morning (2 to 3 hours). It’s gruelling, it’s for me, I connect with nature, I breathe in fresh air and the astonishing views.
I catch up with my girlfriends. At least once a month we break bread, we drink wine, we talk.
I’m selfish with my time at the hairdresser and every now and then I take time out to stop and do nothing. It’s not often, but when we have a quiet Sunday, I stop. I watch junk on Netflix.
So, this is what I have learnt, you need to selfishly take time out for yourself in order to be available for everyone else. It doesn’t matter how you do it or what you do, so long as you do it weekly.
What would your advice be to women who are mothers who are preparing to return to work or start a business of their own?
· Selfishly set aside time weekly for you. Never break the commitment to yourself.
· Engage a coach that has already walked in your shoes, it will help ease the load.
· Take time to reflect to make more effective decisions.
· Build your optimism and surround yourself with optimistic people.
· Be prepared for isolation in the beginning and join a network.