Life outside the comfort zone
Michelle Lynch is quiet, kind and compassionate. She’s also intensely driven, deeply determined, and as focused as they come. The recruitment leader, mother, international netball champion and bodybuilder shares her journey so far, and the values that matter most.
Michelle Lynch isn’t one for noise and drama. Yet she has a truly powerful presence, and a life full of action and flavour.
As a talent acquisition specialist and employer branding leader, she combines patience and diplomacy with persistence and drive. As a parent, she brings care and compassion with - you sense - just the right amount of ‘no nonsense’ at home. And in between those spheres, she pursues a highly disciplined personal journey in sport, health and fitness.
Saying she’s busy is an understatement. Wondering whether she can handle it all - well that’s unacceptable. So, what’s her secret to spinning so many plates?
“I was raised to be a hard worker. And something that I’ve learned about myself is that if I set a goal and truly put my mind to it, I’ll achieve it. I push myself because I’m curious about my potential and excited to see what’s on the other side of my comfort zone. I think it’s important to do something every once in a while, that scares the heck out of you.”
The power of truth... and storytelling
I’ve known Michelle for three years now. And from my very first meeting with her, I knew we were on the same page when it came to employer branding. We share a strong belief about the importance of authenticity and truth. We also both know that our branding niche is as much about culture shaping as it is about recruitment.
As Talent Acquisition Manager at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Michelle is no stranger to the complexities of the workplace. She revels in humanising the entire talent lifecycle process and is determined to help people join, grow and stay with USQ.
“So many organisations are afraid to paint a realistic picture of what it’s like to work for them. They manufacture their narrative and alienate their workforce in one swoop. My goal is to ensure we are accurately telling our story - not through the lens of a cleverly-crafted campaign, but through the voices and stories of our people.”
Storytelling. It’s a subject that’s close to our hearts at EBA. And Michelle shares a career highlight that overlaps with one of mine. In 2019, she and I took our seats in a yarning circle in USQ’s Gumbi Gumbi Gardens. We were privileged to spend the next hour hearing the stories of several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. Stories that, once heard, leave you altered, somehow.
“I still get very emotional when I think about their journeys. I feel so grateful that they felt comfortable to share their life stories with me and the community. The stories we created are helping to bridge gaps and raise awareness. I’ll be forever thankful for that experience.”
A corporate athlete
You’d be forgiven for assuming that working full-time and raising two boys would be more than enough to keep Michelle busy. But she has her sights set on more.
“Growing up, I always played netball and other team sports. But once I started work and had my own family, my priorities changed, and I took a break. When my son turned one, I started social netball again. It was a way for me to regain my identity and a sense of ‘me’ outside of the home. I’d forgotten how much I missed the game.”
It wasn’t long before Michelle’s casual netball games evolved into something more serious.
“I realised I was actually pretty good at it! I started playing in the super league competition for Toowoomba and then eventually I tried out for the state representative team. For me, being older and doing something I was passionate about meant my commitment was so much stronger. I was taking these things on with a real willingness to commit. I found a way to make it happen.”
Michelle didn’t make the ‘Heat’ squad (Queensland’s first team), but she was selected for the ‘lightning’ side – a second squad for the State. Far from being deterred, Michelle saw this as a chance to keep pushing forward. Her perseverance paid off – in 2018, with a few ‘nationals’ under her belt, she was selected for the Australian team to play in the World Indoor Netball Association Tri-Nation tournament in South Africa.
“When I stop and think back to the opening ceremony, I get goosebumps. Standing there, in my Aussie uniform, representing our country - it was surreal.”
Michelle’s passion for sport and fitness extends beyond netball. And therein lies another example of her tenacity and resilience. In 2013, she was playing super league and also training for a half marathon, when she was halted by a stress fracture to her leg. True to form, Michelle rallied.
“It meant putting running on ice for a while. So I turned to something that would help strengthen my body: weight training. And I discovered a whole new passion! it opened a new world to me, and taught me how to take care of my body.”
Learning how to correctly fuel her body and seeing it transform inspired Michelle to work even harder. Eventually, she worked closely with a personal trainer and coach who would encourage her to try her hand at competitive body building.
“I found the idea crazy at first. But the more I thought about it, the more appealing it became. It was time to push myself again. Once I set my mind to it, I knew I could make it happen. It was a new challenge - the mental strength, resilience and discipline that comes from preparing for this type of competition is a whole new level.”
At her first competition, Michelle placed in all of her categories for Sports and Fitness Model.
“I was so proud. I knew it would test my discipline and mental strength. But growth only happens when you step outside what’s familiar to you. My family and coach have been incredibly supportive throughout the whole process. As my boys grow into young men, I hope they learn to also challenge themselves and to be curious about what’s possible when you ask yourself, ‘What’s next?’”
One thing’s for certain, the lessons Michelle learned through her many athletic pursuits have impacted her professional life too.
“Sport has taught me so much about success in the working environment: how to carry myself, and crucially, how to pick myself up when I get knocked down. Whether at work or on the court, I give 100%. I don’t know any other way. And that’s what keeps me moving forward, in my life and my career”
About the Author
Mark Puncher is Employer Branding Australia’s Founder and Chief Energy Officer. Having spent much of the last 21 years with one foot in recruitment and the other in marketing, Mark loves helping fantastic, imperfect organisations bring their stories to life to engage their future superstars.
About our People Stories Series
Storytelling is fundamental to Employer Branding Australia’s work and philosophy. That’s why we created our very own People Stories Series. We’re proud to bring you stories about the incredible things that happen when good, talented humans truly connect with their chosen employer. Follow Employer Branding Australia on LinkedIn or Facebook to see the stories live in your feed.
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