The Iconic Edition
Insider
|8 Mar|6 mins

A Letter to my Younger Self

The "world wide web" is really going to take off...
Kate Tregoning
8 Mar
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Heading up a predominantly female executive team puts THE ICONIC’s new CEO Erica Berchtold in a unique position. To mark International Women’s Day, we asked Erica to pen an open and honest letter to her younger self on career, obstacles and self-belief.

Dear Erica,

You know that big machine called a computer that you get to use once a week in the Cheltenham Girls High School library? That thing they were demonstrating called “the world wide web” is really going to take off and you won’t be able to live without it! If only you know where you’ll end up...

You think you’d like to be a lawyer or a journalist but actually along the way you will develop a love of retail that will never leave you: all those shifts at the shopping centre, either serving people ice cream or working on the perfume counter, lead you to what is ultimately a very satisfying and fulfilling career in retail.

Insider
|8 Mar|6 mins

A Letter to my Younger Self

The "world wide web" is really going to take off...
Kate Tregoning
8 Mar
Share:

Heading up a predominantly female executive team puts THE ICONIC’s new CEO Erica Berchtold in a unique position. To mark International Women’s Day, we asked Erica to pen an open and honest letter to her younger self on career, obstacles and self-belief.

Dear Erica,

You know that big machine called a computer that you get to use once a week in the Cheltenham Girls High School library? That thing they were demonstrating called “the world wide web” is really going to take off and you won’t be able to live without it! If only you know where you’ll end up...

You think you’d like to be a lawyer or a journalist but actually along the way you will develop a love of retail that will never leave you: all those shifts at the shopping centre, either serving people ice cream or working on the perfume counter, lead you to what is ultimately a very satisfying and fulfilling career in retail.

People are always going to assume you’re highly ambitious and competitive and that that’s what’s driven your success. Actually it’s far simpler than that - you like to learn and you like to chat, and the combination of those two things seems to present you with great opportunities. Your success is probably going to make a few blokes in particular try and give you “what for” (because they are competitive, not because you deserve it),  just keep doing what you’re doing—being friendly, inquisitive and open minded—and you’re going to do ok.

Actually, that competitiveness, especially from some men, is going to make it difficult to find someone to settle down with. It’s them, not you! I know you think you’ll be married with kids by the time you’re mid-20s. Don’t worry, you meet the “right one” eventually and can you believe you’re going to have your third child at forty-freaking-three years of age?! Sure, it’s not easy, but even you won’t believe how well you juggle things. Early in your journey into motherhood you worried you weren’t there enough for your kids, but someone gave you an awesome piece of advice: you create your own “normal”. Your kids aren’t keeping a timesheet of you compared to other parents. The time they have with you is their normal—a  bit less during the week but a lot on the weekend—and you make sure quality over quantity counts. Don’t beat yourself up. In fact, your work ethic and ability to “get things done” is a great thing to teach your kids and they’re already a chip off the old block.

You’ve wondered if it would have been better to get married young and build your career later, but you had such great experiences and opportunities throughout your 20s and 30s (and the energy to work hard) that it’s played out pretty well. That bloke whose table you waited on at the Italian restaurant in Dural? He gives you a job when you’re 21 at his business called Harvey Norman and that really is the inflection point in your career. You are always curious and volunteering for new projects or to do more - it’s that attitude that gets you ahead in life.

You’re going to feel that sometimes you are treated unfairly because of your gender - don’t let it dismay you. Times are going to change and your well-developed resilience is going to be one of your strongest and handiest attributes. And when people try and disregard you by saying things like, “you only got that seat at the table because you’re a woman”, just remember this: it’s not what got you there that will ultimately count, it’s what you do once you’re there.

You’re going to have some good times and bad times. Your family are really important in keeping you grounded, and will always have your back. Your friends will be your biggest cheer squad, who are so good at telling you a few home truths when required. Make sure you give back to your family and friends as much as they give to you - it’s a two way street and being busy doesn’t excuse you from contributing to those relationships.

At 43 you are a pregnant CEO of an online fashion business and you feel like you have hit the jackpot. You will achieve whatever you want in life, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Play hard, work hard and take the good with the bad. Everything is part of the journey and whatever is meant to be, will be.

Kate Tregoning
Lifestyle Editor
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