Sarah Johnson of Corporate Career Girl is an Amsterdam-based marketing whiz with a passion for connecting working women.
Juggling a professional marketing career with managing her online career platform, Sarah sat down to chat to us about her home truths on self-confidence, dealing with workplace bullies and putting collaboration over competition.
Madeleine: Sarah, we love Corporate Career Girl. What inspired you to create the platform?
Sarah: I started Corporate Career Girl because I wanted to create a platform that would inspire and encourage young women to be more confident in the workplace. Mainly because the corporate workplace can feel quite intimidating as a newbie or recent graduate.
For example, when I started my career as a Marketing Coordinator about five years ago, I struggled with confidence. Whether this was the confidence to own my work or to stand up for myself. So I created Corporate Career Girl to share my career experiences and help other young women to own the corporate workplace with confidence.
Madeleine: How did you set up Corporate Career Girl?
Sarah: I started Corporate Career Girl as a personal blog back in May 2016. However, thanks to our contributors and all the support we have received from our readers, within two years it has grown to become an online magazine and community for career girls.
Madeleine: Your online community is full of working women, what are some of the struggles and achievements they face on a daily basis?
Since I started this platform, I have received quite a lot of emails from women who have experienced bullying in the workplace. Not only from colleagues but also from managers, and supervisors etc.
Having experienced office bullying myself, I am super passionate about this topic. You might not realise it, but unfortunately a lot of individuals experience bullying at work on a daily basis. It can take a huge toll on your performance at work, your productivity, your creativity and even your health.
It’s always challenging to advise someone on how they should deal with office bullies, because the truth is, it is mostly easier said than done.
However, one of the best pieces of advice someone gave me is to always keep a logbook. Write down every single event, not based on your emotions (how you felt), but write it based on FACTS. What happened? What was said? And how did you handle it? Use this to gather as much evidence as you can. One day the office bully’s actions will catch up with them. By then you will have gathered enough evidence in your logbook to provide really useful insight to an investigation into their behaviour.
However, if the bullying is so extreme to the point where you can’t even come to work, it’s best to immediately report it to your HR Manager or HR department.
Madeleine: How do you find balancing your day job with running Corporate Career Girl?
Sarah: Challenging, however, very rewarding. Most of the time, I am working till late at night or early in the morning. It’s not always easy to find the right balance when it comes to your side hustle. However, I am happy and privileged to put the time, effort and energy into doing something that I really love. Hopefully, in a few years from now, Corporate Career Girl will be my full-time job.
Madeleine: How did you get into the marketing industry?
Sarah: In 2010, I studied International Business and Languages, and graduated with a Bachelors degree of Commerce. My course covered three main subject areas which were business, marketing and languages. After I graduated, I decided I wanted to kick-start my career in marketing. I ended up moving to the United Kingdom (I am Dutch), where I landed my first job as a Marketing Coordinator. Ever since then, I have been working in the marketing industry.
Madeleine: What is your experience as a young working woman? And what advice would you give to other young people in the workplace?
Sarah: As a young woman in the corporate workplace, so far I have learned that the ability to believe in yourself and your accomplishments plays a huge role in your success at work. If you doubt yourself others will also doubt you.
Confidence is so important. Not the fake it till you make it kind of confidence, but confidence that comes from within. And yes, this will take hard work and discipline. If you do not know how to do something, go and learn how to do it. Take initiative and do not allow anyone to label you or what you are able to achieve at work.
Madeleine: Who inspires you?
Sarah: One of the women that really inspires me at the moment is Michelle Obama. I just love her! I think that she is a strong, phenomenal and inspiring leader in our society today. What she has been able to accomplish not only as a first lady but in her career before she became a first lady, breeds hope and inspiration for many young girls.
Madeleine: What is your number one piece of advice for working women?
Sarah: My number one piece of advice for working women is ‘let’s be kind’! Being kind to your fellow working women will not cost anything.
One of the things I have come across in the workplace is that some (not all) women will make every effort to compete with other women and go as far as bringing other women down just to climb up the corporate ladder. In my opinion, that’s not the right way to achieving success. Let’s instead support, help and stand with one another – let’s choose collaboration over competition!
Madeleine: What are some healthy habits we should all incorporate into our workday?
Sarah: Besides the general healthy habits such as taking enough breaks and not eating at your desk, a very important habit I think women should cultivate in the workplace is saying ‘no’ more often.
Throughout my career I always struggled with saying ‘no’ to colleagues if they needed me for something. This would eventually affect my own work and productivity. I mean, there is nothing wrong with helping your colleagues, but this should not be at the expense of your own work and productivity.
Also, it is important to understand that you do not have to attend to someone right away. It’s okay to respectfully say “I’ll get back to you on this in 30 minutes”.
Want more work-related reads? Read How to run an effective meeting in three short steps and Meet Jae Schaefer. 26. Speaker, writer & life coach.
Until next time,