Member highlight, meet Hareta

Meet Hareta McMullin, leadership mentor, employee experience strategist & Verve member

by Verve

When you think of ‘HR’, you probably think of a serious person in a grey pantsuit who spends all day hiring and firing staff. But the reality is that HR has the ability to foster confident, capable leaders and design businesses that are epic, engaging places to work. That’s exactly what Hareta McMullin is passionately working towards as the Founder of Third Space People. As a leadership mentor and employee experience strategist, Hareta is putting the human back into HR by partnering with purpose-led, forward-thinking businesses to create human-shaped cultures that make a difference in the world. 

From growing up in a small rural town in New Zealand to moving overseas and launching her own business, Hareta’s relationship with money has pivoted and evolved over the years. We sat down with Hareta to dig into her money story, find out what a ‘wealthy life’ means to her and so much more.

Harnessing the power of human connection in HR 

We kicked off our conversation by finding out where the idea for Third Space People came from and why Hareta is so passionate about helping women become confident, capable leaders.

“It started with a lot of the conversations that I was having in the workplace and outside of the workplace with my girlfriends. I realised that a lot of the challenges that they were coming up against came back to feel ill-equipped to deal with certain situations – and it was relatively easily fixed. 

You don’t know what you don’t know. So, part of my passion is that it doesn’t have to be so hard and that leading can be easy, flowy and fun. 

Plus, I became more educated and aware of the disparities that we face within society. We all know the data and the statistics [about gender inequality at work]. With my experience, I have the opportunity to play a small role in equalising that and solving it from a multi pronged approach.

Not only can I help businesses start to create the change that we need to see on a bit more of a macro level, but I’m also equipping individuals with the confidence that they need to approach the situation and the challenge,” shares Hareta.

Plus, Hareta is passionate about reframing how we think about employees and how we can reimagine the employee experience. 

“In the past, a lot of the conversations about HR have talked about your people being talent or being an asset or being a cost, and it takes away that human nature of what we are. So, I’m taking the concept of human centred design and overlaying that with culture and helping employers consider, ‘how do you want your people to feel when they work for you?’”.

Building a business from the ground up

Going out on your own to start a business requires grit and guts (and a firm belief in what you’re doing), so we asked Hareta about her decision to step into entrepreneurship.

“My family have always run and owned their own businesses. We come from a small rural town in New Zealand, where there aren’t many jobs. So, they have spent their entire lives working for themselves.  

Up until this point, I’ve spent my career working for others and really enjoyed it (yes, I actually had a great experience in corporate!). But I’ve always had this thought in the back of my mind that I’d love to do my own thing. I didn’t really know what that looked like for many years. 

I just kept coming back to the change that I could possibly make on a bigger scale. So rather than just being focused on one company, and hopefully creating change there, I have the opportunity to increase that ripple effect at scale,” explains Hareta.

Exploring Hareta’s money story

“I grew up in a rural part of New Zealand and money was never free flowing just by the nature of where we lived. We grew our own food and had to drive two and a half hours to the nearest supermarket. Money wasn’t something that entered my consciousness.

I went to boarding school and then moved to work in the city, which is when I started to realise the significance of money and it became really important to me. Even to this day, it is a huge driver because I have seen and experienced what it’s like to not have money.

Money brings opportunity and the chance to create impact as well. I have a really deep need to help other people, and that’s harder to do if I don’t have the financial means to do it. 

Over the years, my relationship with it has changed. I’ve always worked really hard for it. I got a job when I was 15, have always been quite independent, and have paid my own way. I’m also a really great budgeter and I’ve always put a lot of intention behind how I can make my money go further.

I’ve also realised over the years, you actually don’t need a lot of money. You need a certain amount to be relatively stress free and comfortable. But then the more you earn, the more you spend on things you might not necessarily need.”

What a ‘wealthy’ life means to Hareta

“I love this question. It’s changed for me over the years. Earlier on in my career, the definition of a wealthy life directly correlated to a lot of money. That has changed for me now that I have a son and a family.

It sounds incredibly cliche, but cliches are anchored in truth. So to me it’s about time and the quality of time. I don’t want to be working all the time and miss out on life’s experiences. For me, a wealthy life means how can I make my money make money, so that I don’t have to transact my time for that money.

I realised there’s some privilege in being able to do that, too. But what it means is that I can spend my time creating memories and experiences with my family and not feel guilty doing so,” shares Hareta.

Why Hareta decided to join Verve

“I saw an ad pop up a few years ago and had the intention to look into it for a while. Then I looked into the mission, vision and story behind Verve, and saw how it connected to my personal values. It honestly took 30 seconds to make the decision to join

The cherry on the cake is that Verve accepts KiwiSaver contributions. There are not many super funds in Australia that do that. For me, it was important to be able to consolidate my Australian and New Zealand super into a single fund. 

Since I’ve joined, the customer service and the connection has been incredible. I feel like I’m not just a number, which is awesome. It feels really personal. And I feel like I’m helping to make a difference,” shares Hareta.

Hareta’s dream dinner party guest

As expected, Hareta’s answer to “which woman would you love to have dinner with, and why?” did not disappoint. 

“I’m going to bring it home and say Jacinda Ardern. I really admire how she’s breaking the mould and the perception of what strong, great leadership means. She’s a real great example of being able to tap into vulnerability and empathy and yet lead a nation and do it with grace. 

I just think she would have the most incredible perceptions, advice and stories to share.”

And her wisdom for the Verve community?

“One thing that I always come back to in my life is that you don’t get what you don’t ask for. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to ask for what you want, whether that be a salary increase or submitting a flexible working request. 

It’s scary, but in my experience, it has also reaped the most rewards. So as an example, I’ve asked for a salary increase twice in my career and have got it and yes, you do need to put some structure and planning around that. But if I had never asked, I would never have received it,” reveals Hareta.

Are you a Verve Super member? We’d love to hear your story. Send us an email and let’s chat: hello@vervesuper.com.au.

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