Meet Woman Fellowship: Fiona Moncrieff (Autumn 23)

January 14, 2024
Stories from the Women Fellowship: Fiona Moncrieff - Autumn 23

We’ve caught up with some of our incredible Fellows to see what they’re up to now.

Meet Fiona

Fiona Moncrieff started her career as a clinical dietitian at Monash Hospital, before defecting from the frontline and transitioning into the product team of an early-stage healthtech startup in London called Second Nature, who are committed to solving the type-2 diabetes and obesity crisis through mindset and behaviour change coaching. Here she started out as a health coach before transitioning into the content design team, and then the product team as a program / product manager. In the 4+ years she was at this company, it grew from 10 employees to over 100, helped over 150,000 people to improve their health without food restriction, and became the first habit change program to be commissioned through the NHS. Following the fellowship program, she joined the team at Mindset Health where I’m currently working as a Brand Manager leading the product vision and strategy for the development of a new chronic pain product.

Why did you apply for the fellowship?

Upon moving back to Melbourne from London, I was looking to break into the Australian startup ecosystem and learn more about opportunities here at home. Having already worked in a startup before, I was less focused on learning the ins and outs of the type of work I’d be doing, and more so on building networks and communities.  

How would you describe the fellowship to someone else?

Australia’s startup ecosystem is special and unique - I was certainly never aware of a similar network when working in the UK. Once you’ve broken into this ecosystem, it’s a bit of a snowball effect: one connection leads to another and you quickly build a community from there. The best way to break into this ecosystem is through one of the Startmate fellowship programs.

I would describe the Women’s Fellowship as not only a crash course on working in a startup, but also a 101 on progressing your career more generally and how to overcome the challenges we face as women. There were some great lessons like how to grow and leverage your network, dealing with imposter syndrome, and how to land your dream job, alongside valuable insights from founders and operators across the industry. Combining these learnings with the confidence that you build through coaching sessions and connections with other women fellows, it creates a strong sounding board to launch into a startup role.

What is the value you personally got out of the fellowship?

For me, it was meeting all the other remarkable women also working in startups or looking to transition into them. This was inspiring and we learned so much from each other - I’ve made some lasting friendships, so this aspect was really special for me.

The coaches on the program were also great and added so much value to my experience. Both of my coaches (Max Antonov - Head of Product at BackPocket and Keri Clarke - Startup Program Manager at Monash Generator) were huge advocates for me in landing my role at Mindset Health and were a great sounding board throughout the program - and we’ve stayed in  touch since.

The other value add was having access to all the amazing networks and connections in the industry: there were so many inspiring coaches, founders, and operators who spoke to us throughout the program and I’ve had the opportunity to connect and chat to many of them.

Would you recommend the fellowship and why / why not?

For sure! Any Startmate fellowship will plonk you right in the middle of Australia and NZ’s startup ecosystem. It’s then up to you to determine how you leverage that opportunity - Startmate opens the door but you need to be the one to step into the room.

What sort of person would you recommend it to?

It definitely takes a certain type of person to work in a startup - you have to thrive on uncertainty, enjoy a huge amount of variety in your work, and be willing to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in - which includes building flatpack furniture for the office as your team grows! You need to be someone who is comfortable with being self-taught and accept that you’re laying the tracks as the train has already left the station.

It’s not for everyone and some people will naturally prefer a workplace that’s more stable and predictable. But if you’re curious, driven, and like moving fast, then you’ll find there’s no better feeling than joining a team brimming with energy and ideas - this is a startup.

So I would say the Women’s Fellowship is a good fit for women who are already pretty sure they want to work in a startup. From my experience, those who were actively looking for a role in a startup at the time got the most out of the program, because this puts you in a position to throw your whole self into the networking opportunities and leverage the momentum that’s generated throughout the program.

Also, my advice is make sure you attend the in-person events. It’s scary at the start, but the community is so welcoming and this is the best way to fast track the networking process.

What were the main things you learned from the fellowship?

We had some really valuable sessions throughout the program - the standouts for me were ‘Breaking down imposter syndrome’ with Tova Angsuwat, ‘Negotiate like a pro’ with Lucy Wark, and ‘Land your dream job’ with Michael Rubio.

My key takeaways:

  • The value of networking. 90% of jobs aren’t found online through search engines or job boards, and this is even more true with startups. It’s all about who you know, which is why it’s so important to put in the ground work and get out there and meet people.
  • How to negotiate, including different ways to get value from a job offer aside from salary alone.
  • Looking for and landing a dream job and key insights on how to stand out from the crowd.
  • Building your elevator pitch and how to leverage your transferable skills when transitioning into a new industry.
  • How to overcome imposter syndrome and feel comfortable speaking about your achievements: it’s not bragging when it’s based on facts.

What were some unexpected takeaways?

Having come from a clinical health background, I always felt like a bit of an imposter in the startup world - it’s certainly not a common pathway that many dietitians take.

The Startmate Women Fellowship helped me see this as the unique selling point that it is: I can combine hands-on experience delivering nutrition and behaviour change interventions with expertise in the development of digital therapeutics.

This gives me unique insights into the patient and clinician experience and a natural ability to build strong empathy with the problems patients face when accessing traditional healthcare treatments. As a result, I’m so passionate about building simple, accessible, and scalable healthcare interventions that work.

The Fellowship program helped me to see how my story fits and leverage these unique selling points to my advantage.

Describe your journey since finishing the fellowship, professionally and personally.

I finished the fellowship program mid-way through 2023, and at the end of August started a new role at Mindset Health. The role, team, and founders (Chris and Alex) have been amazing so far and I’m really excited about the potential of what we’re building.

I’m now a big advocate for hypnotherapy and it’s triggered a deep dive for me into the power of the mind in recovering from a huge number of conditions through rewiring neural pathways in the brain.

I’m in the early stages of executing our product strategy to launch the new chronic pain product, and couldn’t be more excited about this as a breakthrough management tool for people who live with chronic pain.

There’s nothing better than landing in a role and company that feels like a perfect fit. The Startmate program gave me more conviction of the incredible opportunities that exist here in Australia. There’s so much potential for this startup industry and I’m constantly invigorated by the amount of goodwill and enthusiasm shared by everyone who is keen to build this industry into a global leader.

If you ask me, it’s a great time to be working in Australian startups.

Pssst. Women Fellowship applications are open

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Jessica McKellarJessica McKellar

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