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the myth of the "perfect" leader: why unexpected experiences are your best teachers

In the dynamic landscape of leadership, unexpected experiences often serve as the catalysts for personal and professional growth. Nichole, a seasoned leader with a diverse background in marketing and sales, brings a wealth of experience and insights to the table. Having worked in prominent roles at companies like Procter & Gamble and as a former employee of Danone, Nichole's journey is marked by pivotal moments that have shaped her approach to leadership. Nichole reflects on her journey, stating, "You never know what things are good for in your career – so take chances and make the most of them." From navigating career transitions to fostering a culture of empowerment, her insights offer valuable lessons for aspiring leaders seeking to navigate uncertainty with confidence and resilience.

birgit rechberger-krammer

"You never know what things are good for in your career – so take chances and make the most of them." - Nichole Duttine

embracing change to success

Nichole's journey into leadership took an unconventional turn when she was asked to transition from marketing to sales, thrusting her into uncharted territory. "I remember crying in my brand manager’s office – was I being punished?" she recalls. Yet, this unexpected shift wasn't a setback but a springboard that catapulted her into roles of greater influence and responsibility. Nichole's ability to find balance and prioritise effectively, especially during crucial life moments like pregnancy, underscores a fundamental leadership lesson: embracing flexibility leads to more sustainable success.

prioritising balance and effectiveness

Balancing career ambitions with personal priorities, Nichole encountered a pivotal moment when she found herself at a crossroads between her demanding career and her family's needs. Faced with the challenge of juggling professional aspirations and personal responsibilities, Nichole made the decision to better balance prioritizing her own health needs by effectively cutting down on relentless work hours.

Reflecting on her decision to focus on family commitments, Nichole emphasises, "Like many, I worked long hours and excelled at the start of my career. So I cut back to a more “normal work week” – which made me prioritise better, learn to say no or not for now, and simply work more effectively. I realised – nothing went wrong – not in my job, not in my pregnancy and not thereafter as I’ve stuck to it since. We are the owners of our time – no one manages it for you." Through this transformative experience, Nichole not only enhanced her efficiency but also learned the value of setting boundaries to foster a more sustainable approach to leadership.

cultivating a supportive leadership style

Reflecting on her early days at P&G, she shares, "My first boss said “if you look good, I look good. I’ll always make sure you look good”. This is a mindset I have carried as a leader." She encourages challenging the status quo, stating, "Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo constructively and respectfully – be brave, you are better than you believe – even when you’re 'young with less experience'." These insights underscore her self-awareness and commitment to continuous improvement.

Influenced by mentors and personal experiences, Nichole embodies a leadership style centered on empowerment and support. Her commitment to enabling others to thrive, coupled with a willingness to challenge conventional norms, has been instrumental in fostering a culture of inclusivity and innovation. Nichole emphasises the importance of adapting leadership approaches to individual needs and championing diversity in male-dominated spaces.

strategic decision-making: balancing intuition and analysis

"I am an old-fashioned 'pro & con list maker'. Then I actively look for people with different perspectives to have thinking partnerships with. Finally, I check back with my personal values." Nichole approaches complex decisions methodically, weighing pros and cons while seeking diverse perspectives. Reflecting on her departure from both P&G and her former role at Danone, she emphasises the importance of loyalty and personal fulfilment. Nichole's dedication to purpose-driven work is evident as she shares, "Both companies I worked for are purpose-driven. Purpose inspires me because if I am investing all those hours, something better for the world needs to come from it." This commitment to aligning professional endeavours with a greater purpose underscores Nichole's ethos.

fostering growth through innovation

As a mentor and leader, Nichole champions a culture of agility and creativity, encouraging others to embrace change and seek opportunities for growth. By instilling a mindset of "lemons to lemonade" and clarifying objectives before pursuing strategies, she empowers future leaders to navigate complexity with confidence and resilience. Nichole's commitment to nurturing talent underscores her belief in the transformative power of mentorship and continuous learning. "Agility and creativity are key to navigating unexpected challenges," Nichole advises.

Nichole's journey highlights the power of embracing imperfection and seizing opportunities. From career transitions to fostering empowerment, her insights inspire resilience in navigating uncertainty. Embracing change, prioritising balance, and empowering others, Nichole embodies effective leadership. As she reflects, "Know what you want and how you want it - then enjoy the rides of your career."

about Nichole:

Nichole Duttine is a seasoned leader in marketing and sales, boasting a rich professional background with esteemed companies such as Procter & Gamble and as a former employee of Danone. Her journey is marked by resilience and adaptability, guiding her through unexpected challenges with unwavering determination. With a commitment to fostering inclusivity and empowerment, Nichole's leadership is characterised by empathy, strategic vision, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.


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