Start where you are

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Aniya Roslan is a migrant, a marketer, and a proud woman of colour living in Melbourne, Australia. She is the Growth Lead at Forever Projects, a not-for-profit with a mission to prevent families from breaking down due to poverty by supporting women to build sustainable businesses. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, Aniya is also an aspiring founder, building a solution to make networking easier for introverts.

Biggest fuck up

My biggest professional fuck up is the classic tale of not listening to your gut and letting other people influence your decisions.

I took a job I didn’t feel good about, and then three months later, I was fired from it.

It started when I was approached on LinkedIn about a Marketing Manager role. At the time, I was a coordinator looking for my next move, and the title piqued my interest. Ooh, did someone seek me out with a promotion to boot? I took the interview and noticed that there were a few red flags along the process, namely, that the skill set they were after didn’t align with my strengths, and they were also offering the same amount of money I was already making.

When I asked for more, at least enough to justify a move, it wasn’t even a negotiating tactic, they implied this was a ‘big ask’ before eventually agreeing. I was also asked to work from their office as part of the interview process (unpaid), which I would never agree to now. But I was naive and thought it was worth it for what effectively was just a title change. Silly.

Shortly after starting, it was clear this was going to be a struggle. We weren’t a good fit, and they had hired someone I would be reporting to, which was a surprise. A few months and a lot of late nights and floundering later, I was let go. Square peg, round hole.

Now, it’s not all bad news because this then made me available to pursue a much better role, one that was more aligned with my skills, paid better money, and eventually got me permanent residency in this country. And I learned a couple of lessons I never forgot.

But I know I could have saved myself from the stress and embarrassment if I had followed my instinct and not let other people’s opinions sway me to take it. It’s also easier, I think, to accept a mistake when you know it was your own call—you can take responsibility, learn from it, and move on.

Rant

Unpopular opinion, but I don’t believe in big names on a resume.

Working in growth and tech, we seem to pay a lot of attention to where people have worked. Having one myself, it does make it *easier* to get attention, open doors, raise funds, you name it. But a fancy name or title on someone’s employment history doesn’t translate to the best person for the job.

How we assess talent, make connections, and provide opportunities needs to change – let’s keep doing the work to find out who might actually be best for the job, not just if they’re ex-XYZ.

Some of the brightest minds I’ve worked with—people who can think on their feet, create incredible processes, lead a team, and perform incredibly well under pressure, have come from smaller companies or freelanced. This creates a pathway to building more diverse teams, not just in gender and race but also in industries and approaches.

Useful advice

Start where you are. Something I picked up from Chris Gardner and his book.

It’s normal to look at an ambitious goal and feel daunted by the journey ahead. It’s also human to look at people around you and compare how you’re doing—is it as much money, free time, career progression, or perceived happiness? There’s no end. And I think for many of us, we feel like we’re working against a ticking clock, and it can get overwhelming, paralyzing us into procrastination or inaction.

But any step forward, however small, is still progress. And you’re not going to be batting a perfect score every day. Some days, you’re going to hit just one. That’s fine. There are times in your life when circumstances might make it harder for you to move as fast, but just keep moving.

I think there’s no shortage of advice out there on how to make to-do lists or to get out of a rut, but I think the thing that people don’t talk about enough is that ebbs and flows can last for different lengths of time. And it’s helpful to have a mix of tactics to help you through.

For me, that’s a mix of journaling, so I can reflect on all the negative shit I’m saying to myself and remind myself where I am, as well as a long-term plan in the form of a presentation I make for myself. Then I check in regularly. In the last 5 years or so, I’ve been stepping out of myself to focus on something else through donating and free coaching. Personally, that’s helped me to feel good about where I am and approach things more positively. 

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