About Phillipa Geard

Phillipa studied a Bachelor of Business Science at UCT majoring in Marketing, a passionate marketer at heart. Phillipa joined Procter and Gamble from university where she worked on several brands, both locally and internationally, including Tampax, Vicks, Febreze, Always, Safeguard, Camay and SK-11.

Phillipa worked extensively in media buying and media negotiations. In 2003 she left P&G on an extended career break to start a family. After her career break of nearly four years she resigned and started out as a marketing consultant.

In 2008 Phillipa started a branding company with a partner in 2008 then, in 2012, she launched RecruitMyMom and, in 2019, RecruitAGraduate.

You have had a successful career, and seem to have a real entrepreneurial spirit, what does your GC Index profile tell us about what underpins your success?

I do believe that the game changer proclivity is what drives many entrepreneurs to start a business. One sees an opportunity and believes that you can make an impact. It then becomes a bit of an obsession to get it up and running. This obsessive behaviour is what can be detrimental to your relationships, but extremely helpful in getting a business or concept going and successful.  The polisher proclivity has been helpful to me in ensuring that what I wanted to bring to market was done at a very high standard. My staff know that I am a perfectionist which can be hard on them and me, but at the end of day we have a company and product which we are proud of, and others buy into.

When in your career have you felt that your role was most ‘in tune’ with your proclivities?

Definitely whenever I start something because I’m very much in that Game Changer space. It’s the adrenaline that really pushes you, you’ve started something that you firmly believe has value and that you need to bring to market. It’s so energising, you become completely obsessed with it, your family probably take strain because of it. Being able to create and play in that space is where I operate at my best and when I identify something I do become obsessed by it. It’s having that ability to hone in on something and firmly believe that you can bring it to market that’s so exciting because it’s an unknown at the very beginning but the conviction of success is the driving force behind pushing the idea to reality. I have been on that journey four times now and it’s definitely when I feel most in tune with my proclivities. If I can make it look amazing, that’s even better.

When in your career have you felt that your role was least ‘in tune’ with your proclivities?

There are times as I look back on my career when I was not in tune with my proclivities. The one was when I ended up in a bad partnership and my partner had me swimming in legal documentation that I needed to wade through. The other is when I find myself getting too deeply entrenched in the daily detail of the business, and being sucked into routine details. It is part of what I have to do as CEO, but it exhausts me. When you work outside of your natural proclivities, it is not necessarily stressful, but it does sap your energy. So ,I make sure that I take time out to refresh and replenish my energy by  doing things like walking, reading, cooking or spending time with family.

What skills have you had to develop along the way to make the most of your proclivities?

I have had to learn so much being a CEO. My game changer proclivity means that I am an activity and idea junkie. This can exhaust a team (and my husband), so I have to be mindful of not constantly creating ideas and activity.  On the positive side I have learnt that I am a big picture person and now I ask my staff to give me the outcome not the detail of the process. I have had to learn to be more patient with my employees when my polisher, perfectionist side can want me to take over. I now actively try to empower my team by asking questions, and stopping myself taking over. I am learning to bring my team along with me in my crazy ideas, rather than just landing them on the team and expecting them to figure out what to do and how to implement with my ideas.  I am conscious of ensuring that I co-create with people to get buy in to my ideas.

Who do you like to surround yourself with in order to help you succeed?

I like to have people around me who are excellent at taking care of the details. They are often implementers who once given a task or idea run with it and figure out how it can be done. I do not like looking over people’s shoulders so they must be able to get on with a job.  I do enjoy working with people who help me strategise how to implement my ideas. I enjoy working with a team of people with whom I can discuss ideas and get input and feedback. I value working with people who are willing to challenge my thinking.  There are people who stand out who have complimented my proclivities, a previous business partner and great friend and my husband are two examples. I have two staff members who are top-notch implementers and for them I am so grateful.

An ah-ha moment was realising that being a polisher doesn’t mean you are an implementer. I realised why I get exhausted working with detail routine type tasks, yet the detail of making something excellent for the end user is energising. Both are focussed on detail, but the outcomes and end goals are quite different. That’s quite a relief. The other is that I thought my strategy would be a higher proclivity, but it makes sense that I need people around me to work out my ideas into practical workable ideas for the entire team.