This week, we catch up with Naomi Walkland — International Communications and Marketing at Bumble, and Founder of The Power of Quitting. In this interview, we discuss everything from human behaviour to Bumble, female empowerment and the importance of a good pivot when necessary. Here’s Naomi’s inspiring story:
Newnham: What were you like growing up? How would your friends and family have described you?
Walkland: Driven and extremely determined.
Newnham: What led to you studying Anthropology and how did it impact what career you chose, if at all?
Walkland: I loved humanities at school, particularly geography, philosophy, and politics. For me, Anthropology and social sciences felt like the perfect course to study to further my intrigue in the study of human behaviour and cultures. I never wanted to become an Anthropologist but knew I wanted to work in a career where I was required to understand human behaviour and cultural connections and that’s why I chose PR & Communications as the field I wanted to enter as a graduate. PR & Communications essentially looks at how an organisation or a brand want to communicate to their public i.e. their consumer. Studying anthropology and social sciences has definitely supported my career thus far.
Newnham: Can you tell us more about The Power of Quitting?
Walkland: I founded The Power of Quitting in September 2017. The ‘Power of Quitting’ is an international sell-out panel series which includes stellar panels of influential women from across the world. The Power of Quitting is dedicated to sharing stories of extraordinary professionals, brands, and businesses. In the panels we explore how smart women pivot, embrace change, and lean into their strengths to build a successful career with a sense of purpose.
I have hosted events in London, New York, and Berlin with panelists including: Forbes 30 under 30 alumni, Babba Canales (Founder of By Babba), Marine Tanguy (Founder of MtArt), Emily Forbes (Founder of Seenit), and Meg He (Co-Founder of ADAY); Author & Creative Director, Alex Holder; and Jules Miller (Founder of The Nue Co).
Newnham: Sounds fab, Can you tell us more about Bumble and your role there?
Walkland: I’ve always loved what Bumble stood for and thoroughly believe in Bumble’s mission to shed light on the epidemic of harassment online and remove misogyny in society. Bumble is centred around female empowerment and making real change in gender inequality! It was hard to resist joining a company which has a mission and a purpose and whose values are centred around kindness, respect, equality, and accountability — companies like Bumble are rare (it also helps that I met my husband on the platform).
My days at Bumble are never the same. If I’m not travelling, my day normally starts with the gym at 6am followed by listening to a podcast on my 20 minute commute to work or reading through my emails and checking slack channels from the previous evening.
When I get to my desk, I spend time catching up with members on the international team and my boss who is the Vice-President of International Marketing & Communications. This is then followed by a day of meetings, calls, and working on various marketing activities and strategies. We leave the office around 6:30pm/7pm and my evenings are usually spent with my husband, friends, or at female networking events/dinners. I try to be in bed for 10:30pm (I need my sleep!).
Newnham: You are all about empowering women. How do you think we empower more women to take control of their lives and careers?
Walkland: Empowering women has always been important to me at such a young age. It was ingrained in me by my mother who raised me up as a single parent whilst running a global consultancy business. She taught me the importance of empowering others — in particular women — and that there is a force behind a collective of voices of women striving to make real change. That has always stuck with me and it’s for this reason that I’ve always been a feminist and motivated to empower women.
Fast forward a few years, female empowerment and feminism has never been as important as it it is today. DVF summarised this in a Teen Vogue interview last year when she said, “If you ask me how I want to be remembered in life, I would like to be remembered as the woman who was the woman she wanted to be and who helped others do the same.” This summarises exactly why I am so passionate about supporting women.
Newnham: What’s next for you in 2019?
Walkland: 2018 was such a fantastic year for me so my aim is to make 2019 just as brilliant. Work wise, I will be focusing on launching Bumble in international markets including Sweden, Copenhagen, and Spain which is ahead of us going into the Middle East and Africa. Outside of work, I got through to the Berlin Marathon so will be doing that in September. I got married at the end of 2018 so will be going on a belated honeymoon too.
Finally, I will continue mentoring young women and looking to launch informal dinners on ‘The Power of Quitting’. It’s grown so much that I want to do take it from events to conversations over a dinner table!
Newnham: What’s your favourite quote from a book and why?
Walkland: This was such a hard question. I read daily and have a list on my phone of 40 or more quotes. I will have to go with this one, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
Newnham: Finally, if you could go back in time, what advice would you offer a younger Naomi?
Walkland: You worry too much about things you can’t control, enjoy every day and be present. A ten year plan doesn’t exist, life will always turn things upside down and that’s normally for the better. Don’t worry about failing as you will do so a lot and you will learn to appreciate failures as it only makes you stronger. Lastly, your job is not who you are. It’s just what you’re doing on the way to who you will become.