How I Succeeded: RMIT Online's Helen Souness

How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Helen Souness, RMIT Online.

Current gig: CEO RMIT Online, the online team for RMIT University (previously MD Etsy, Envato and SEEK).

Current Location: Melbourne, Australia

Current mobile device: iPhone X

Current computer: HP Elitebook and an iPad all day

One word that best describes how you work: Peripatetic

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Slack for open communication, Excel to check our plans will add up, Tableau to check daily if they are adding up and Powerpoint to tell our story.

What social network do you find the most useful?

Linkedin for both staying in touch with my network and increasingly for industry insights and content.

What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

  • Review the market, your plans and your numbers constantly
  • Never fall so in love with a product that you can’t stop it or change it at any point
  • ‘Meet’ with a customer every week minimum, no excuses
  • The people you hire is the most important decision you ever make, so take your time and never compromise
  • Keep it fun, it helps you keep perspective

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

I am constantly amazed by the creativity of the people I work with, from their culture building ideas through to building our products. I have learnt my job is mostly to get out of their way, with only a few nudges needed now and then to keep things on course.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

See below, sleeping. But my favourite thing is spotting people’s talents and helping them use their particular magic to greatest impact.

What's your sleep routine like?

Magnificent, if I have any talent it is to sleep easily and for as long as life allows me. I am very grateful for this gift, especially when travelling long haul. I was once woken up by the last person leaving the plane, after a 12 hour sleep, without sleeping pills.


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