Lucy Jedlin grew up in Sydney, with a passion for sport and teamwork, and a head for logistics. When I met her, she struck me as warm, humble and incredibly genuine.
She has a few lawyers in her family, so looking back, it makes a lot of sense she went down that path at university. But about five years into her career as a lawyer, with Banking Royal Commission work under her belt, she was burnt out, and could no longer see herself climbing the corporate ladder.
One year, an amazing group of friends and the Women Fellowship later, she is Yellow Canary’s Customer Success Manager. Here’s how she got there.
“I grew up in Sydney and was a very sporty kid. I loved skiing and netball. That was my whole life. I wouldn't say I excelled in any sport, but I just really loved it. I enjoyed the team aspect and being out there with friends,” Lucy tells me.
“I was also a pretty anxious kid. I was very logistics-focused. I would say: ‘Mum, when are we going to get here, and how are we going to get from A to B?’ Things kids wouldn’t ordinarily be thinking about. I think that's why I ended up going into law, because I liked the rules and the processes.
“I also had a lot of legal people in the family. I did legal studies at school and really enjoyed it. I loved the case work, I loved the litigation. So I suppose I always thought that I wanted to be a lawyer.”
“After I finished my law degree, I did a clerkship. And then I went down a really traditional legal path, where I spent 18 months doing a couple of different rotations within a law firm. I then settled in the employment team,” Lucy says.
“I did a lot of employee litigation, underpayment reviews, corporate transactions, and had the opportunity to do a couple of client secondments. It really varied, which I loved.
“I spent about a year working on the Banking Royal Commission. It was such an intense time, working 100-hour weeks, and afterwards, I realised the sacrifice wasn’t worth it. After that intense period, I never really felt valued.
“I couldn’t see a future for myself in that area anymore. I no longer saw the value in becoming a senior associate and climbing the corporate ladder.
“It wasn't the content of employment law that made me want to make a change. It was really more about getting out of that corporate structure, and the culture that comes with working in a large law firm.
“I had a couple of friends who worked as lawyers and then pivoted to startups.
“Once I decided I wanted to make a change, I had a lot of conversations with them about how they approached the journey. They were working in strategy, operations, partnerships and chief of staff roles. They were utilising the skills you learn as a lawyer, but in a totally different way.
“They had each found this new identity outside of the law. It was eye-opening.”
“I heard about the Fellowship from a previous Fellow, Katie Noonan. I had worked with her at Ashurst,” Lucy tells me.
“I actually applied for the Fellowship this time last year and was unsuccessful. But that just spurred me on. I reapplied again in January of this year and was fortunate enough to get into the program. It was the kick I needed to make the transition, and learn as much as I could about startups, what venture capital is, and what a chief of staff really does.
“I loved absolutely everything about the Fellowship, but it was the community that was most valuable to me.
“My tribe was really encouraging. You’d turn up to weekly meetings and share where you were at in the process, whether you'd had job interviews, if you've been unsuccessful or successful.
“I’ve got a really supportive group of friends and family, but what I loved about the Startmate community was that they challenged you.They asked you the really hard questions.
“That’s particularly true of my relationship with my coach. She worked with me to delve that little bit deeper into what I wanted and why I was doing the program. She prompted me to question what my values are and make sure I ended up in the right role at the right company.”
“I hadn’t heard of Yellow Canary before I was introduced to another previous Fellow, Baidy Laffan, who was just about to start there as Head of Customer and Growth,” Lucy says.
“Yellow Canary is a payroll compliance software startup, so there’s a natural transition from being an employment lawyer.
“Baidy said she was looking to hire someone in the customer success team, and that someone with my background and career goals was exactly who they were looking for. I interviewed for the role and was successful.
“I'm a Customer Success Manager now. During the Fellowship, I definitely was leaning towards more of a strategy and operations role. This is not where I saw myself. But I think there's such a natural alignment with all the client-facing work I was doing as a lawyer.
“There is a good mix of strategy work too. There’s only two of us in the customer success team, so building out that function is incredibly exciting.
“What is our customer success strategy? How can we increase our customer engagement and customer experience and make our processes as scalable as possible?
“There’s a lot of opportunity in being on the team during this pivotal growth period.
“I definitely see myself at Yellow Canary for a while.
“I was actually talking to my partner this morning about how excited I am to start work every day. It’s no longer a case of dragging out my morning routine. Instead, it’s a case of, I've got so much to do and I just can't wait to get stuck in.
“No two days are the same, which I absolutely love.”
The Startmate Women Fellowship is a two-month program helping ambitious women find their dream job in a startup.Register interest