Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role
Pippa Hallas and I am the CEO of Ella Baché.
Tell us about what you do – what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
My role is about setting and implementing the strategy of the business. It’s about managing people and bringing everyone along the journey, getting them to understand our strategy, where we’re going and what needs to be done. I also spend time with our stakeholders including franchisees, David Jones, our college and manufacturing representatives. I spend a lot of time in meetings!
You have been involved with the family business your whole life, however you did not always work for Ella Baché. Can you tell us about your career journey to becoming CEO?
I’ve been with Ella Baché for 10 years now. After leaving school I went to uni to do a business degree. Then, like many people, I jumped on a plane and went overseas. I didn’t particularly want to work in the family business straight away so I spent a couple of years in London working in advertising and Paris before eventually finding my way home after a long stint traveling. I returned to advertising at some big Sydney agencies, but then I hit a crossroads in my career. I could either turn right and keep working in advertising and going overseas where the opportunities were, or I could jump ship and work for Ella Baché, and that’s what I did. I started off at Ella Baché in a marketing role, ended up heading marketing for 4 years. Subsequently I became CEO and have been for the past 5 years.
Taking on the role as CEO is a big step for anyone, what where the initial stumbling blocks in this role and how did you overcome these?
I think one of the biggest stumbling blocks is your perception of yourself. Going from a team member to CEO – it’s true when they say ‘it can be lonely at the top’, so I think it’s important to have the reality and confidence to back yourself with that title. Becoming CEO, where the buck stops with me, can be quite isolating at times, so it was all about getting used to that title within myself.
Do/did you have a mentor? Who has helped you get your career of the ground?
People throughout my career organically became my mentors and some of my early bosses put me under their wing and mentored me informally as well. One of the things I did when I became CEO was surround myself with 3-4 people externally that I could call on anytime and use as a sounding board as I knew they’d be completely honest with me, whether I wanted to hear it or not. No one can be an expert in everything, so you need to know when to call on people who know more. It’s important to get honest feedback because in the role of CEO it’s sometimes hard for staff to be comfortable enough to give you the truth.
Ella Baché celebrated its 60th year in 2014, congratulations! Why do you think the brand has resonated so well with consumers over the years and continues to grow?
I think it’s a combination of a couple of things. Ella Baché is such a well-known and trusted brand with a lot of integrity around it. In this day and age, the younger generation are so researched, so it’s important that our products really work, which they do. There’s nothing that Ella Baché tries to hide.
Ella Baché is also very much a people brand – there are so many passionate people that work for this brand, and that passion is passed on to our consumers. We try really hard to keep reinventing ourselves and innovating so we have a very rich history with a contemporary edge.
How do you find juggling being a mother and a successful businesswoman?
I love it. It’s great being able to have the opportunity to do both. I wouldn’t want to do one without the other, but it’s not for the fainthearted. When I get busy, sometimes I feel guilty not being at home, or not being at work. It’s that ‘Mothers guilt’ and I feel torn a lot of the time, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Luckily I have people around me that support me so I don’t feel the need to do it on my own.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Different people and their stories inspire me, as does travelling and looking at what others brands are doing. Innovation, creativity – there’s so much awesome stuff going on in the world. With technology now, everything has been brought to the surface, like a loudspeaker – there are so many opportunities.
What are your goals for the future and the future of Ella Baché?
It’s about making sure we are leaders the Australian skincare industry and as skin experts it’s about staying results driven, at the heart of the brand. We have salons all over in places like Kalgoorlie and Hobart, to Melbourne and Sydney. It’s amazing how many women have become business leaders in this brand, it empowers women in their own careers. I want to continue that journey and make sure we’re market leaders setting up a business model that’s unique in Australia.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
It’s a really exciting journey but sometimes you have to make things up along the way. You need to back yourself, take risks, sometimes stand-alone and have the ability to fail, but not so much that it cripples you. You need to find that balance between backing yourself, taking a risk and having a go.