Sandy Hutchison Interview

Sandy is married to Andrew and is mum to Alex and Aidan.

Sandy has had a long and very succesful career in HR, Sandy is passionate about individuals finding their passion, has had a wealth of experience in mentoring & coaching and is a strong advocate for gender equality and diversity. Sandy is also on the board of the newly formed Australian Gender Equality Council.

Having had some personal experience in making people redundant, Sandy would often have sleepless nights before making someone redundant. Sandy then experience redundany first hand.

Personal experience reinforced for Sandy how important it is for organisation’s to be respectful and considerate and to put the employee first. While her experience was extremely positive, Sandy knew this was not true for everyone. Workplace experts say this sort of early preparation and consultation lets people depart with dignity and prevents brand damage to organisations. It was for these reasons Sandy founded a new startup called Career Money Life.

“If you try and do everything at once, you will be too stressed to enjoy it.”

What is Career Money Life?

Career Money Life is a completely new and disruptive way of connecting employees to service providers, with an initial focus on services corporations look to provide employees, through the redundancy and transition experience, such as career coaching, financial advice and health & well-being.

Career Money Life empowers employees to have choice around service providers and enables organisations to easily facilitate bespoke programs, providing transparency while controlling costs.

What was the catalyst Career Money Life?

The catalyst was my own career transition. I took time out and went to Europe for three months with the family, when I returned I spoke to a number of other individuals that had been damaged by their transition experience.

I remember a particular light bulb moment over dinner, when I was recalling my own experience of being allocated money for outplacement services, I found it empowering to have the choice as to what I could spend this on. It occurred to me that maybe there was a business in this.

I then spent the next number of months researching what was out there and what was needed. I had a strong desire to provide services to individuals, that they really needed and not just what might be available through an outplacement provider.


What has made you so passionate about managing the redundancy process?

Looking at research around redundancy, it is one of the most high risk times in an individual’s life. Their mental & physical health, sense of well-being and the core of who they are, can all be negatively impacted and in quite an extreme way.

It comes back to neuroscience, when you are an employee, your company is your tribe and then suddenly they cut you loose. Thinking back to the days where our very survival was dependent on belonging to a tribe, the impact can be just as severe. We feel excluded, rejected and isolated. Who we are, our worth and our value are all brought into question.
In some cases employees never relaunch, they experience relationship breakdowns, financial hardships, and at the extreme there may even be domestic violence or suicide. All of these potential outcomes are more likely to occur, when the redundancy is unexpected.

It doesn’t have to be this way, a redundancy could be a great experience, depending on who comes into their lives at that point. Surrounding employees with people who really care and support them, can not only set the individual up for success, but sends a great message to the employees you still have.

Through the course of our working lives, on average we are made redundant 3 or 4 times. Even if these redundancies are of our own choosing, we can still feel stigma and shame. I want to change that.

What’s next?

We have already started to diversify our offer, initially focusing on services for transition and redundancy, our clients are asking for a wider suite. Other services that we are now able to provide include:

  • Employee Assistance Programs, including a number of psychologists, which enables the employee to choose their own psychologist.
  • Transition to Retirement
  • Parental Leave, moving in and out of the workforce
  • Health & Wellbeing Programs
  • Career Development
  • Training

We have also developed online content to support these programs to help employee decision making so they select the best services for their needs.

You now have your business, with a number of large corporate clients and small business suppliers, what was your biggest challenge to get this far?

There have been a lot of challenges, I have had to learn to be persistent and patient, things always take longer and are more complex than you would like. When you have built a business that is disruptive, new and different, you need to invest a lot of time in education.

You also need to manage your own expectations and keep yourself engaged, keep believing in yourself and your business. Career Money Life is great now, but I had to learn that you need to engage with clients 6 to 8 times over a long period of time to convert them to a corporate client. Getting that first corporate client is extremely difficult, especially when you are selling a service that is new to the market.

In the corporate world you get regular feedback, in the form of bonuses, a pay rise, positive feedback from your boss, clients or peers. When you are starting out there is none of that.
It is great to be coming out the other side, we now have over 200 suppliers, providing 1500 services to over 20 corporate clients. It is great to be getting such positive feedback from employees regarding our suppliers services as well.

Who was your biggest support?

I have met so many amazing people, mostly women, who have been so incredibly helpful, offering connections and advice, without any expectations of pay back.

When you work for a big company you have branding and credibility, when you start out on your own you only have yourself, so to get support from women you have just met is wonderful.

What advice would you give to other women facing major life events or choices?

Just do it, just go for it but also be realistic. Setting up and running a business, you need to work out how you can financially sustain yourself. Expect to have little or no income for 12 months longer than you may expect.

You also need to be realistic about the other demands you have in your life, like your family commitments, I don’t think I would have been able to do this when my kids were really young.

Be open to getting lots of advice from other people and work out what to listen to. Invest in your networks before you take the leap and understand that when you go out on your own, people may no longer take your call.

Don’t buy into the super women story, make sure you work out what the price is to succeed, are you ready financially and emotionally and make sure you have a good support structure!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stay out of the sun! Play the long game. I was in such a rush to do everything at once. I didn’t have enough perspective that there was time to do what I needed. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and be in the moment.

If you try and do everything at once, you will be too stressed to enjoy it.
Maybe spend less on shoes than I did (or maybe not).

You can follow Career Life Money at the Official Site, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

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