How cancer made Kate Massey a better CMO

Kate Massey is completing another challenge for Cure Cancer Australia

Being diagnosed with cancer aged just 26 would seem insurmountable to many people.

Not so for Kate Massey, who, eight years later is now cancer-free and using her experience to not only raise $100,000 for Cure Cancer Australia, but is also implementing her key learnings into her role as CMO of JCurve Solutions.

Following her diagnosis, Massey felt lost – until she came across a brochure from Cure Cancer Australia about the Kokoda Trail challenge. Massey, who freely admits to not being particularly fit at the time and was actively discouraged by family and friends, decided to take on the Kokoda Trail in 2012.

Since completing the Kokoda challenge, Kate has gone on to fundraise for Cure Cancer Australia by taking on numerous global adventures. She’s completed the Salcantay Trek to Machu Picchu and the Larapinta Trail, climbed the highest freestanding mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro, and (as a former non-runner) ran both the Sydney Half Marathon and New York Marathon. She is over $57,000 in to her aim to raise $100,000.

The latest challenge will see her summiting Australia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, four times in just three days in November.

“The length of the climb is equivalent to the height of Mount Everest. On the day we summit twice we’ll be running low on sleep, but riding an adrenalin high! On the third day we’ll join the wider Cure Cancer Australia group with the support of Huma Charity Challenge that are doing the single summit, so that we can all finish the climb together,” Massey told CMO

While in training, she was invited to be the keynote speaker at JCurve Solutions’s recent end-of-financial year company day. The speech engaged the company so much, that nearly 20 per cent of them are doing the Kosciuszko Challenge with Massey, including the CEO.

“The speech set the tone for the rest of the day, everyone was super engaged and energised, and now 20 per cent of the Sydney office has signed up. The CEO is passionate about leading from the front," she said. "There’s been a focus on culture and values over the last couple of years at JCurve Solutions; and investing in people really shows.”

Getting results

Massey has been with the software company for nine years, starting as marketing manager, before becoming head of account management, then running a business unit, before heading back into marketing, and then as CMO. She said she's applied her learning in beating cancer to her role as CMO with great effect.

“When you take on a challenge, the bigger the challenge, the more rewarding it is to complete, and this is true in a work sense as well. I am always challenging my team to take on a bigger goal or target; we are highly results-focused," she explained. "As a result, I have a very engaged team, and have become a big champion of culture and engagement initiatives across whole company.

“It is also important we are working towards progress, rather than activity, and we’ve seen great results in last 12-18 months. You can always can push harder than you think you can, and from this transition into results, we have managed to achieve a very high output with our small team.

“We are now aligned behind a goal and end-result, and hold ourselves to account, rather than just being busy on the hamster wheel. The hardest part is getting started, so break goals down into achievable milestones, to get tangible progress towards them, and measure the progress then celebrate success." 

Massey agreed it's always easier to make excuses, and harder to keep yourself accountable.

"That’s a key value at JCurve Solutions - living above the line of choice, with accountability, and ownership, and responsibility, not excuses, blame, and denial. If you’re too busy, it means you’re not prioritising to get something done,” she added.

Massey's top 10 lessons learnt along the way:

  1. The BIGGER the challenge the more rewarding it is to complete.
  2. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right” – it’s in the mindset.
  3. You can always push yourself harder than you think you can.
  4. Goals become real once you commit to them.
  5. The hardest part is often getting started.
  6. It’s easier to achieve a goal if you break it down.
  7. It’s easy to make excuses, it’s harder to keep yourself accountable.
  8. Too busy means you are choosing not to prioritise doing it.
  9. You don’t need to be a runner to run a marathon – you just need to not quit.
  10. ALWAYS celebrate your successes.

Read more of CMO's interviews with leading Australian marketing chiefs:

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