November 20, 2018

Puffling joins the Femeconomy network


Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.Alana and Jade founded Femeconomy, a for-profit social enterprise, to promote female founded businesses and improve the future and economy for future generations.


Lija Wilson and Sarah Parker Co-Founded Puffling, a next generation job sharing platform, to solve a problem both had faced. Both seasoned and experienced leaders working in the advertising industry found it impossible to return from parental leave into flexible or part-time roles at their previous level of seniority.

Lija’s career has been spent in marketing and advertising group leadership roles for brands including Fairfax, Qantas, Canon and Adshel. She is also currently a contract CMO and Strategy Consultant. Sarah’s previous career includes Client Services Director and executive marketing roles with Chartered Institute of Marketing, Holler, Story Worldwide, Radar and Swordfish Media.

Puffling’s platform matches female job share partners and functions as a recruitment and placement agency into organisations across a range of sectors. There are obvious benefits for women who are able to continue pursuing their leadership career flexibly, and maintain earning capacity. Importantly, organisations also win, with access to a broader pool of talent, built in leave coverage and motivated, engaged staff. Puffling was 2017 People’s Choice Winner for The Visa Everywhere Initiative.

The concept and story behind Puffling, like many other startups, stemmed from personal experience. Sarah and I had both worked really hard and absolutely loved our careers in marketing and advertising. However, after both navigating return to works after maternity leave with a toddler and a baby each, we started to really feel the challenge of securing part-time work at a senior level.

Our careers were set to plateau if not regress after children, despite our seniority and experience. So, like many women we started to feel the pinch of a trade off. Do we take seniority and salary, squeezing full time remits into part-time hours? Or do we trade backwards, opting for part-time work with less responsibility (and pay)? Or, do we pivot into a new area entirely and disregard our career trajectory and start again somewhere new?

We knew that we were not alone. Our struggles were shared with our friends with children, our new mothers group connections and former colleagues and industry peers.

We started to joke about creating a Joint CV and interviewing together for roles we loved, but knew we could never secure part-time. Puffling was created! We’re now on a mission to redefine the future of work and reimagine job share, without any compromise.

Currently, our candidate base is skewing heavily towards return to work mums. However, anyone who is looking for part-time work can sign up and pair up for roles. We work with businesses of all sizes and have recently expanded into all verticals, now servicing HR, Finance, Marketing, Advertising, Legal, Sales and Admin.

The advertising industry is can be tough. So starting in that market was a challenge for us, as there is still a long way to go in the way jobs are designed and the receptiveness to part-time roles at a senior level. Our pilot into the advertising industry taught us a lot, and help shaped the way we thought about our pairings and matching skills. As well as providing the opportunity to also service contract and freelance needs, given the diversity of our talent base.

Our backgrounds in marketing and advertising have also helped us shape the way we frame up problems and creative solutions, and put our customers at the heart of our business and the way we design our model.

We have helped a lot of women secure great part-time roles in jobs they love. This is always an amazing outcome for us, especially when we hear a lot of stories around women signing up after really negative experiences. Sadly, there are still way too many cases of redundancies. We ran a survey to Puffling’s audience base last year which highlighted that 76% of women felt stressed or anxious when negotiating a return to work.

We’re also now working with some fantastic businesses, both large and small. The support from Diversity and Inclusion Managers as well as CEO’s, Talent Managers and Hiring Managers who are recognising the power in attracting and retaining senior women has been very rewarding for us.

We have also enjoyed the support of Randstad, the world’s second largest HR and recruitment firm, who signed on as a strategic partner and are actively supporting diversity initiatives in recruitment.

Agh, startup life! There are so many. The biggest challenge for us has probably been dedicating time to work on the business rather than in it. We are very hands on currently and deal with every aspect of the business, from candidate to client contact to marketing and speaking engagements through to every aspect of day to day operations.

Being part of change. We’re redesigning the future of work – something that can impact both men and women and the work/life balance for families is a huge driver for us. On a more macro level, we can contribute to significant improvements for business growth, we can reduce the cost of retaining staff and boost the labour force participation rate for women.

Be confident always in your contribution and value. Keep fighting the good fight and when you have success and you rise, don’t yank the ladder up behind you. It’s tough but we need to continue to pay it forward.
November 20, 2018

Puffling in StartUp Daily

Taking away the need to visit every time you want to scout out the job market is a shelf of job marketplace startups, all looking to connect job hunters to niche industries and roles.

Their purposes are diverse; for example, WithYouWithMe is a platform connecting veterans to roles on their preferred career path, while Wagga Wagga startup Pointer is a marketplace connecting regional Australians to remote job roles.

Looking to tackle another largely untapped space of the job marketplace is Puffling, a platform which connects mothers returning to work to each other for job sharing roles.

Focusing on both full and part time roles within the advertising, public relations, and marketing sectors, Puffling allows its users to contact other viable candidates on the platform to organise a meetup, before pairing together, forming a joint CV, and applying for pre-vetted jobshare roles found on Puffling’s database.

Describing Puffling’s functionality as similar to a modern “dating platform”, the startup’s cofounder Lija Wilson said the benefit of the platform over the traditional jobshare model is the fact that users are able to handpick their own professional match.

“They choose each other based on their shared goals, values and their common backgrounds, skills and experience,” she explained.

“The businesses therefore benefit from having double the experience and network for the same headcount cost in the one role, as well as having a super engaged and dedicated team who are accountable to each other, not only in the work they deliver, but also the practical side of being able to cover for each other during periods or illness or leave.”

A parent herself, Wilson paired together with Mike Hill and Sarah Parker, who also had families of their own, to come up with the idea for a business that will fill the role sharing gap in the jobs market, which is especially large in senior roles.

“We were joking about combining our CVs so we could apply for the types of roles we had previously held, and splitting the load as part time roles at senior levels simply didn’t exist in the open job market,” said Wilson.

“When we considered our network of friends and colleagues and realised how many parents were trading seniority and often taking massive steps back in salary for flexibility, we realised just how large and how powerful this talent pool of senior return to work mums was. There wasn’t a talent shortage in our industry at all – there was a flexibility shortage.”

With backgrounds and “deep” networks embedded in advertising, PR, and marketing, the trio decided to focus on these select industries with the launch of the platform’s trial period last year.

Leveraging their internal networks, the startup managed to gather 20 agency partners on the platform and recruit nearly 500 return-to-work mums within a short period of time.

Puffling users are able to choose whether to set their profiles on private or public before they begin searching for a partner on the platform.

“We provide a whole bunch of tips and questions for our Pufflings before they go on their first ‘date’ and also engage with them on preparing for a joint interview,” said Wilson.

“You may not find an exact match straight away, but there is increasing interest from businesses in ‘vertical pairings’ whereby complimentary skillsets or a more junior and senior pair are matched.”

Sporting a model similar to most recruitment platforms and firms, Puffling charges a percentage of the total salary to businesses once a job has been secured. However, with that in mind, Wilson said the startup offers a price “well under half” of most traditional recruitment fee models.

Discussing the businesses on the platform, Wilson explained a lot of them have been supporters of job share for a while, and joining Puffling came as a natural transition.

“However, there are many businesses who are still working out how to engage with flexible working arrangements and are new to job share. We are absolutely working on how to encourage conversations on flexibility and make it an issue for us all to solve; its not a female issue, it’s not an HR issue, it’s not a CEO issue. Flexibility is something requiring education, endorsement, and trial,” she added.

Elsewhere in the space of supporting mothers is Western Australian startup Jugglr. Aiming to support stay-at-home parents, the Jugglr app connects mothers with others in their local area to offer each other their professional services.

By encouraging users to flex their professional skill, the app hopes to better equip them to re-enter the workplace in the future, while offering them an opportunity to begin developing their own business from home.

Sydney startup Gemini3, meanwhile, is focused on job share roles. It works to firstly help companies identify opportunities for such roles, design them, and then promote and fill them.

Looking to broaden its job offerings, the startup recently formed a strategic partnership with recruitment and HR specialist company Randstad. With the partnership, Puffling said it’s looking to accelerate its growth, forwarding its goal of creating a more inclusive workforce.

With interest from businesses across law, finance, IT and education, the startup is also looking to expand its offering as it transitions from its trial period towards its full launch.