Stories from The Fellowship - Emily Burke, Winter20 Fellow

Sophia Witherington
September 4, 2020
Emily Burke, Winter20 Fellow

We are catching up with our Fellow alumni to hear what they have been up to since finishing the program:

Emily has been a management consultant at BCG in Sydney for two years, where she has defined growth strategies (for a payments fintech), developed consumer insights on personalisation (used for Board Strategy Days of one of Australia’s largest grocery stores), and managed complex $bn+ transformations (including at a “big four” bank). Prior to BCG, she was a lawyer at the Australian High Court, and has two masters degrees in Law and Public Policy from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Emily recently started at Sempo as Head of Strategy & Partnerships.


What was the Fellowship to you?

The Fellowship is the best possible way to expose yourself to inspirational startup operators and VC firms in Australia and NZ, build a deep network and understanding about available job opportunities, and craft a persuasive narrative about the usefulness of your skills for the startup context.

Personally, the Fellowship enabled me to surface and answer all of the concerns I had that kept me back from pursuing startup opportunities. loved the focus at the start on goal-setting and dealing with imposter syndrome, the sessions on different types of roles (e.g. product management, venture capital etc), exposure to amazing operators at unicorns in San Francisco (including Zooz, Zendesk etc), and the offer from the network to connect us with whoever we wanted to speak to.

Would you recommend it to others?

If you are interested in start-ups or venture capital, completing this program is the best possible option for you. What you’ll be able to achieve in a few short weeks is what you could only hope to do by yourself over several years!

Of course, no-one is going to hand you answers to really difficult questions (“What matters to you?”) or your perfect job (if there is such a thing). But the Startmate community will work with you to help you discover what is important to you, refine your narrative about your values, brand and skills, discuss internship and job opportunities with you, and connect you to whoever will be useful for you to speak to.

What were the biggest outcomes for you from participating in the Fellowship?

By the end of the program, I had personally spoken to or attended webinars with 50+ different operators (I just counted my notes!). It’s difficult to understate how useful it is to have exposure to such a broad range of people, in such a short period of time.

Due to the many connections I made through the Startmate community, I landed part-time work at two incredible Series A startups: Swoop Aero, and Eucalyptus. Working there was the best possible opportunity for me to practice refining my consulting skillset for the start-up context, and identify what roles I was most interested in.

I am now Head of Strategy and Partnerships at a mission-driven fintech, Sempo. Sempo helps NGOs/Governments deliver cash and voucher assistance programs through a platform that is far cheaper, faster, user-friendly and traceable than traditional alternatives. As I’ve long been a fan of cash transfers in aid, to work at the cross-section of fintech and aid is an absolute dream.

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