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Interview with Marta Grutka - Corporate Affairs, thought leader in globalization & innovation & more

By Tarryn Christy


I first met Marta online, on online Coaching Program with Gina De Vee. She was an inspiration from the start. Marta is a women that knows her power, challenged the norm and built a career that thrives. When Marta introduced herself on the Coaching Program I knew I needed to feature her on my blog because she is a woman that has defined her own success and she has built on that. She has worked in Corporate Affairs and started multiple businesses that she has felt passionate about. Marta is a woman we can all learn from. She is a true inspiration and a Boss Babe of note.

You are going to be so inspired by this #BossBabe. She has climbed the corporate ladder, built multiple successful businesses, positioned herself as a thought leader, mentored executives and knew never to take no for an answer. I hope you enjoy this one because I really did.

Tell us about your #BossBabe job in Corporate Affairs

I am currently the Head of Corporate Affairs at KBZ Bank, the largest bank in Myanmar with a mission to help the country achieve 100% financial inclusion. It is a new role that has been created to help enable the realization of this purpose through effective communications and culture-defining programs (they want to be known as a Bank with Metta” – loving kindness), while proactively protecting the Bank’s reputation locally, regionally, and worldwide. As part of this, I oversee all aspects of corporate communications, employee communications and employer branding, and one of my KPIs is to build and mentor a team of next generation communications leaders, which I absolutely love.

What advice would you give to women wanting to climb the corporate ladder and take charge of their careers?

First, know whether “climbing the corporate ladder” is, in fact, your key motivator. People are driven by different things. For me, even though I held big roles by the time I was in my late 20’s, it was never about “reaching the top” or having a specific title, per se. Rather, it was about learning as much as possible, following my heart, staying open to the opportunities that presented themselves, and creating opportunities when there weren’t any coming to me.

In recent years, I’ve mentored many women in their early to mid-thirties who, like me, had enjoyed a lot of career success at a pretty young age, but were suddenly waking up to the fact that their deeper desires were not being satisfied. Do as I say and not as I’ve always done and consider what you want to create in all areas of your life so that you do not lose sight of the bigger picture beyond the “corporate ladder.”

Also, be realistic that, nowadays, the “corporate ladders” are quite short. Job titles have become inflated to accommodate “Millennials’” demands, and salaries have stayed pretty flat – the salary I was earning in my late 20’s (high 100k’s/low 200k’s) is often considered “too much” in today’s market, even as the cost of living, etc., has naturally risen considerably in that time – it’s simply not sustainable. So again, in your quest to climb the ladder, do not allow yourself to over give to any organization unless you feel there is an equal exchange in terms of your compensation, benefits and, most importantly their culture.

Understand that being “CEO” as a solopreneur or even a small business is not at all the same as being CEO of a multinational organization. If you sincerely want to be the latter, take a role that will give you exposure to the “bigger picture” – strategy, operations, finance, HR, marketing, etc., across the company and in multiple geographic markets. And learn as much as possible about how to manage your time and energy to maintain balance and a clear head. I have loved my career in communications because it’s put me in the heart of the companies I’ve worked with, working on the most “mission critical” projects and with people internally and externally. Find the thing that you love that will keep you going even when things get weird – because they are bound to at some point! 😉

Don’t let anyone put you in a box. We are all multifaceted, multitalented people. Don’t define yourself in any way that doesn’t feel right.

How have you overcome self-doubt and fear when positioning yourself as a thought leader in globalization and innovation, and speaking at conferences and events

I grew up doing musical theatre and singing and performing violin in a pretty competitive way, so being and speaking “on stage” was always my happy place. That is, until I came to Asia in 2004. My mother had just died unexpectedly, I moved to Asia for a relationship with a man who wasn’t available, and took on a role requiring me to travel a lot and lead teams in what is basically an “opposite” culture from the U.S. Suddenly, I noticed that I could not stand up to even announce something simple like, “The bus for dinner will leave at 7pm” at team events without my whole body shaking.

Then, when I tried to sing, I couldn’t sing more than a line or two without crying uncontrollably. You get the idea! This sudden “stage fright” lasted almost 10 years, during which I dove into a deep spiritual journey, blending many alternative and holistic practices – from acupuncture to EMDR – to address what is technically classified as “complex trauma,” “traumatic stress” and/or “complicated grief.”

In 2011, at the suggestion of a good friend, I gave myself permission to audition for a reality TV show in Singapore and was cast by CAA as the “star.” For the next five years, I continued studying acting for film and television in Sydney, Australia, and then in Los Angeles. Allowing myself to be seen as a “leading lady” even while trembling, crying, etc., in front of total strangers accelerated my healing and reconnected me to my true self.

By the time I started thinking of becoming a thought leader in 2016, opportunities to share what I know started coming to me out of the blue. This gave me confidence that I was on the right path, and, of course, the more I put myself out there, the more fun it became. Today I am so grateful to feel like myself again and excited to inspire more people in whatever way I can.

Tell us about your time mentoring millennials, executives, solopreneurs and more

My first mentoring experience was during college when I worked as a Resident Advisor. It was more challenging than I would have imagined – I went to a women’s college and dealt with everything from bulimia to drug use, to suicide attempts, without any official training. Talk about “learning on the job!”

Over the years my work in corporate and as a consultant has always blended brand and business strategy with a mentoring component, though in 2014 I started packaging up my mentoring offerings officially when a young woman I met at a networking event followed up with me saying she “wanted to make a quantum leap” in her life within three months, and she wanted me to “be her coach.” I didn’t see myself as a coach but asked her more about what she wanted to achieve and realized I knew I could help her. Thus, “Being Bespoke” was born – a program to help people be in alignment with their true essence so that they can achieve more ease in every area of their life.

Then, I created a similar offering for small business owners and solopreneurs called “Quick-Start,” which helps them refine their brand, align their assets, and create 90-day strategic action plans.

Recent mentees include mid-career executives from Capgemini, Samsung, and The University of Sydney, as well as independent consultants, small business owners, and start-ups through Telstra’s muru-D accelerator in Sydney, Australia.

Since 2008, I also have mentored executives at The Australia Federation Against Copyright Theft, DANONE, The National Broadband Network of Australia, The Walt Disney Company, and Unilever. In addition, I was a Mentor for the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations for several years.

In 2012, I had a unique opportunity to be an enrichment lecturer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, delivering accelerated learning workshops to 500+ people over 10 days on how to use creativity and communications to improve their lives.

Earlier, in my in-house roles where I built several communications departments from scratch, I recruited and groomed many young professionals who had no prior communications experience. All of them went on to quickly enjoy promotions and global leadership positions at some of the best brands in the world.

My approach reflects my “quick-start” style, leverages my diverse background, and, if appropriate, uses tools and inspiration from Access Consciousness®, acting techniques taught in the top schools in Sydney and Los Angeles, and Asian philosophies.

How has starting multiple businesses such as SMART Image (Santa Monica Artist’s Resources Team), Bspoke Consultancy Pte Ltd in Singapore, and MGlobal Advisory changed your view on success and career happiness

I started each business in a different energy. SMART Image was for fun and came through me when I was truly in a place of wanting to help people. Bspoke was equally born by me seeing a real gap in the market that needed to be filled, and my own need to try to reclaim my voice and self-worth. MGlobal was less of a business than it was an elevated rebrand of myself. I give this background because I have learned that, while happiness definitely comes from helping others, and I receive a lot of personal happiness by constantly creating and generating a “next level” of whatever it is I am doing, I enjoy it most when I am feeling whole inside myself and have more energy and love to give to whatever I am doing. I am happiest being part of a team of really amazing people who live beautiful values and co-creating incredible things together.

Tell us about one dream or goal you are currently working towards

Inviting and receiving a man into my life to be my best friend, co-creator, lover, and partner in crime!

What message do you want to share with the world

Only love is real. And, it’s time for us to rethink what “world leadership” looks like moving forward.

What is your view on women supporting and helping one another

We must learn how to truly do so in a way that neither traps us in outdated models of what we think it means to be a woman, nor vilifies men in the process.

How has living and working abroad changed your view on life and success

I have been traveling alone since I was four. {A story for another day!} I feel 100% at home in an airport and completely energized when I am up in the air on a plane. I simply cannot imagine my life without having had the chance to not just travel to but live for extended periods of time in so many amazing places. There is so much to love in this world, and I have so many amazing friends all over the planet, I feel absolutely blessed, and no matter what else I have accomplished, I am learning to see this as one of my biggest successes. Living across Asia expanded my views on every aspect of life, basically, and I pray that the region never becomes too Westernized.

It’s important to realize that you can’t really run away to any place. You will have to face yourself eventually, no matter what. However, I do encourage everyone to listen inside themselves to see if certain places are calling them. Whenever I have heard and followed this call, it has always been the right thing to do and led me to whatever was coming next. The few times that I have “forced” a move when I knew in my heart I didn’t want to go, things didn’t work out too well. 😉

What advice would you give to women who are wanting to start a business and put themselves out there

Check your intentions and your energy. I have mentored many women who have started a business shortly after a big heartbreak or other “loss,” in an effort to reclaim their voice. I also have mentored corporate executives in transition (i.e., recently laid off), thinking of starting a business as a sort of a survival tactic. I also have done variations of this while setting up my own companies. Birthing a business to compensate for a state of lack or loss…

Connect with Marta on Social Media. She is a #PowerHouse women you want to learn from

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