Francesca Meijer – Franki – lives in Sydney with her husband and three children and is part of Bupa’s Engagement Marketing team. We got the lowdown on her career so far.
How did you climb the career ladder?
I grew up in the UK and achieved a psychology degree, but only found clear direction when I realised my ability to empathise suited qualitative research. After that, I fell into the field and it soon became my passion. I spent the next decade travelling the world, interviewing people in homes, schools, hairdressers, bars – you name it – gaining insights into the psychology behind attitudes and behaviours.
Things changed when my first daughter was born and, soon after, my husband took a job in Abu Dhabi. As the ‘expat wife’, I took the opportunity to continue my professional development and studied a Master’s in Organisational Psychology. Several years later, now with three kids and a Masters to my name, we relocated to Sydney, via a stint in Singapore. I was ready to go back to work (mostly) full-time, yet I knew the all-hours nature of qualitative research wasn’t what I wanted now. But what next?
We all have transferable skills, but not everyone else sees them. Happily, through my new network, someone did and I was referred to Bupa. Through this opportunity, I have been able to really explore what it feels like to work on projects I am passionate about and that truly make a difference.
What does your current marketing role involve?
I work in the Engagement Marketing team and our role is to demonstrate what Bupa stands for, by connecting with people around issues that matter to them – rather than simply selling them Bupa’s products and services. In Australia, Bupa is primarily known as a health insurer, but we’re actually a health and care company, offering dental, optical and disability services as well as content, tools and programs, designed to guide people through their individual health and care journeys.
Families are a key audience for us and our customers have told us that, above everything, it is the emotional wellbeing of their kids that matters most. As such, we aim to facilitate moments of family connection through all our sponsorship activity. I’m also really excited about our recent partnership with the Kids Helpline. As well as supporting them to deliver their ‘Wellbeing in Schools’ program in primary schools, we are developing a program that better supports parents of kids in their early teens deal with the challenges they have told us they face.
As a business, we are also active in advocating for better health outcomes for Australian people at a government level and our Bupa Health Foundation funds key research projects, such as research into the factors that impact a baby’s development. Through active collaboration, I am involved in many of these projects, which is hugely satisfying.
How has your upbringing helped you professionally?
I think it has been more the cultures that I have been surrounded with as an adult that have helped me professionally, to be honest. My upbringing was fine, but it has been my life experiences that have made me courageous and taught me wisdom and curiosity. Also, the open cultural dialogue of workplaces that welcome growth and authenticity has had a massive impact on my ability to grow and learn.
Have you ever had a ‘eureka’ moment that changed your career?
To be honest, my career has been a combination of serendipity, intention and being true to myself. I don’t think there have been eureka moments, as such, just a path that I couldn’t predict originally, but that makes total sense, when I reflect back.
What do you value most about your working life now?
Without a doubt, creativity, collaboration and getting to know myself. I’ve learnt not to doubt myself, but also to listen to others before I speak.
If you could go back 20 years what advice would you give yourself?
Oh, if only. Be yourself and believe in yourself. If you’re working, be clear about how your business makes money and the importance of articulating objectives. Perhaps more importantly, the uncomfortable feeling in your tummy is always something that needs addressing before it becomes more than the gut feeling you should have listened to.
What are you most proud of in your career?
The non-work stuff! Building a social infrastructure and raising a family while living overseas and now here in Australia. Like every part of life, you are faced with a problem and you find a solution. I learnt a lot of new skills which have helped in the workplace, such as confidence, sociability, problem solving, diversity appreciation and resilience.
Have you had any career low points and how have you overcome them?
Of course! Having had a career break with the transition to kids and expat adventures, how do you create a new normal? In retrospect, I should have acknowledged the challenges in that experience and sought support as to how to set goals and transition back to the workplace.
Who are your career role models and why?
Our chief marketing officer at Bupa, Jane Power. She believes in, and lives, our values every day. She also understands human nature, which always guides her thinking and how she responds to challenges.
What’s your ultimate goal?
Being a well-rounded, positive and useful citizen.
What does that mean?
It means being there for my family. It means being across the big health issues for the Australian population and it means delivering value to them.
I’d also love to take on more leadership roles, in a way that brings people together and has a direct impact on our own employees.
If money was no object what would you buy?
Pools, cars, houses would be the selfish response. I think what might resonate more would be around what I would DO, if money was no object.
What would your motto be?
Easy. ‘Never refuse an invitation. Never fail to be polite.’ It’s from Alex Garland’s movie The Beach. I put my hand up for new opportunities, even when my initial reaction is that I don’t want to or don’t know how.