‘I felt like I was really letting them down’: Uber’s Nicole Bardsley on work-life balance and leadership

Nicole Bardsley

Bardsley recently joined Uber from Cashrewards, Mediaweek recently revealed.

Nicole Bardsley, the new head of marketing at Uber, Uber Eats, and Uber Car Share ANZ, has opened up about the point in her career that she “found really tricky to manage.”

“I started that year [2015] doing the Marketing Academy and getting married, and I finished it having my first son.

“There was a lot of growth and personal development that happened over that period of time. I really got to a point where I was like, I need a new challenge when I come back from mat leave, but is it the right time to do that?”

Bardsley was making the move from Virgin Mobile to Westpac when she found out she was pregnant with her second son. “I felt like I was really letting them down by doing that at this point in time, and I felt quite apprehensive about telling them,” she admits.

“I met with Adrian, my new leader at Westpac – that was a time that I saw what a great leader is, because the reaction that I received was amazing. He was happy for me as a person, the fact that I was having a baby, he didn’t care about the timing and actually had an attitude of, ‘don’t apologise, this is amazing news. I’m so happy for you.’”

Bardsley was speaking to News Corp Australia’s director of the Growth Intelligence Centre and independent think tank The Growth Distillery, Dan Krigstein on The Growth Distillery vodcast.

Dan Krigstein and Nicole Bardsley

Dan Krigstein and Nicole Bardsley

Those experiences shaped how she leads her own team. Bardsley told Krigstein that soon after she started as Cashrewards CMO, a team member came to her with news she was pregnant. 

“They came to me and they were almost apologising, that it was an inconvenience that they were going off to have a baby. I don’t think anyone having a baby should ever see it as an inconvenience.

“I imparted the same piece of advice that I was given, which is ‘don’t be sorry, take as long as you need’. It’s important to realise that it’s not just about what we do during the day and what we do for work, it’s about our full self and I think as a leader, it’s very important to bring that full self to work.”

Speaking with Mediaweek, Bardsley added that her best advice for those looking to move into leadership roles in 2024 was to “make sure that you got the time to focus on it, and be fully present in those mentoring conversations.”

“You can gain a lot from it. Sometimes I’ve come away from a conversation where I’ve been the mentor, and I feel like I’ve gained more from the experience than the mentee. It gives you a great sensation to be able to help someone in their career and journey, and being really, really honest and vulnerable with people is powerful.”

For those tuning in, she hopes that her story can provide an example of what it looks like to balance a family and a career. 

“There are like women – or even men – who are thinking about starting a family and what that means for their career, and how they balance and juggle. I hope that sharing my experience provides some guidance, to know that you can still achieve great things. 

“You don’t have to give up one or the other. It is a juggle, but it’s about balancing both.”

Top Image: Nicole Bardsley

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