Elizabeth Gulliver has seen friends and family struggle to balance parenthood and their careers. So, during her first pregnancy, she decided to make a change. Gulliver started Kunik, a members-only community for working parents, in January 2018.
Gulliver loves that her company is making a difference in elevating working moms in the workplace — a mission she sees the value in after a career in finance. However, startup life isn't all rainbows. Starting her business has come with serious challenges, and a recognition that she's leaving the traditional 9-to-5 behind.
We talked to Gulliver about how she started a business that matters to her, where she turns for advice and her best tips for growing as a professional. Hint: if you've got butterflies in your stomach, you're doing it right.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Elizabeth Gulliver
Miami Beach, FL
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I started my career in finance, in investment consulting and at a bank. I never loved finance, but it gave me a much needed skill set (numbers don't come naturally to me!). I've always wanted to start a company, though, and before founding Kunik, I launched a real estate business. The crazy whirlwind of starting something new is definitely where I am happiest.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I'm proud of taking the leap away from finance and walking into something completely unknown. It's still early for Kunik, but the experience of starting this company from absolutely nothing has already taught me so much. I know at this point I could never go back to a more traditional job.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
Every hour in a startup brings a new challenge! I wish that were a joke. Two things I've found especially challenging are asking people advice constantly and then, on the other side of that, trying to balance all the different opinions you're getting against each other and your own gut instinct. There is almost never a clear answer. It's a lot of best guessing and moving forward without any evidence that you're right.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
I was very lucky early on to have two amazing mentors at my first job: Mary Jo and Greg. Both constantly pushed me to take on new challenges and were the first to make me feel that 'stomach going crazy' sensation that (for me, at least) signifies growth. They have continued to be insightful advisors throughout job changes and startup challenges.
What do you do when you're not working?
I spend a lot of time with my husband, dog and close friends — mostly on the water (we live in Miami) and cooking or grilling.
If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?
Anything by Johnny Cash.
Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?
"Top Gun" (yes, I'm embarrassed).
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
I've always loved reading. I can't sleep without opening a book. I was recently completely absorbed by "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles. But really, I'd just want to be sure I had a LOT of books with me!
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
If it's not a plane ticket, I love to shop for beautifully designed pieces for the kitchen or dining. We host a lot and I can never have enough serving stuff. If I won the lottery, though, I'd be buying plane tickets everywhere and I'd buy a sailboat!
What is the no. 1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Be truly open to every opportunity (especially the unexpected!) and if something makes you feel uncomfortable, it's probably pushing you to grow. I've taken job opportunities in India, Turkey and Mexico. I always felt unqualified and uncomfortable. But, in hindsight, those were the opportunities where I grew the most.
Why do you love where you work?
I've watched firsthand as my family members and friends have struggled to have children and nurture their careers. Until we find better ways to support working parents, we will not see women advance in the workplace. I love where I work because I feel deeply passionate about what I am building.
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