Stories from The Fellowship - Rachel Chong, Winter20 Fellow

Sophia Witherington
August 24, 2020
Rachel Chong, Winter20 Fellow

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

Rachel joined The Fellowship having worked with Australia’s leading startups and scale-ups as an executive search partner, specialising in technical leadership hires and scaling software engineering teams. Following the Fellowship, she joined Savage Interactive, the makers of Procreate, to build their talent acquisition function from the ground up. Far from a conventional pathway, Rachel came from a background in Marine Biology, Professional Accounting and Business Development with early stage startups.

What was The Fellowship to you?

The Fellowship was a door opener to Australia’s best network of startup founders and operators. I was blown away by the quality and reach of the Startmate community, and the openness of everyone I’ve met in supporting myself and other fellows on our journey.

Our Fellowship kicked off at the start of the COVID lockdowns, and now I can’t imagine surviving isolation without it. I had been thinking about a career change for a while, and before the pandemic escalated, I had applied for a working and holiday visa to Canada. The process of navigating a career change is a messy one, and the Fellowship gave me the opportunity to explore different pathways and roles in a structured way.

The biggest value of the Fellowship is the magic that happens when you bring together a group of inspiring and high powered women, and facilitate them through the same journey of discovery. As HBR puts it in this article of Reinventing Your Career in the Time of Coronavirus:

Self-reflection, paradoxically, is a practice best nourished by talking out loud in social exchanges with kindred spirits who respond, sympathise, commiserate, question, read your body language, and share their own experiences. One of the reasons potential career changers benefit so much from attending courses is that their Fellow students represent a ready-made community of kindred spirits to talk to.

And that, The Fellowship hits the nail on the head.

Would you recommend it to others?

I’d highly recommend The Fellowship if you are serious about delving into the startup space, and you have the bandwidth to dedicate time and effort into it. “You reap what you sow” is especially true with The Fellowship. I believe it is important to participate with a specific intentionality, whether it is to explore different career paths, jumping from corporate into startups or learning from the best people in the industry.

Know your ask, be open to being vulnerable and experience the magic happen through the Fellowship.

What were the biggest outcomes for you on The Fellowship?

I joined The Fellowship at a time where I was open to taking my career down multiple directions. I had already pivoted industries and roles a few times and still haven’t worked out my sweet spot in terms of maintaining a sustainable interest which also leveraged my intrinsic capabilities.

I was able to delve deep and explore different role functions within The Fellowship, which helped me narrow down my options. Perhaps the most impactful outcome was connecting with an inspiring leader from an AMA session and deciding to commit to a coaching relationship for the next 9 months. I’m very excited to see what’s to come.

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