Jumping on the rollercoaster. How I became a CEO.

For those that read my post about Sarah Frizzell in June and know me well, you might have guessed that was the moment I decided to leave my job and start my own company.

That weekend with Sarah in Hatepe I had 3 offers I was considering. All of them I'd be headhunted for which was a first in my career and felt pretty dam cool. All were executive roles. One with probably the most successful tech company in NZ, another with a creative company I'd admired for years and the other, well that was a slightly different proposal.


It was an invitation to start a company.  An invitation to create whatever I wanted.  To be my own boss. CEO.


It might sound a little strange as it's probably not the traditional way one becomes a business owner.  Having worked with a number of startups over the past 18 months it's not something that I'd heard of.


A mentor of mine had an idea.  Then he gave me the confidence to make it happen.   Mentors are good like that. 


I spent most of that weekend with Sarah debating all those options. 1 month earlier if you'd asked me if I had plans to leave BizDojo there would have been zero chance of me saying yes.  But when 3 offers in the same month land on your lap it makes you challenge yourself and ask questions about your current situation.

Having peer mentors to talk through the options and cheer me on really helped.  I was also inspired by other Leading Ladies like Kat Greenbrook who around the same time left Kiwibank to create her own company, Rouge Penguin.  Being part of The Female Founders as a sponsor and speaker over the years also helped give me the courage to take the leap.  Listening to inspiring women like Melissa Clark Renyolds, Marie Clare, Ruth McDavitt and Julia Forsyth to name just a few, gave me confidence that I too could be a CEO and define my own career destiny. 

Saying no to those other bloody cool jobs was hard.  But all I could think was that when I described to friends the three options, only one of them really made me smile. It made me nervous and excited which apparently are the perfect emotions when taking on a new challenge.


So I've done it.  Along with my mentor, I've created Blackeye VR, a virtual and augmented reality production studio and consultancy based in Wellington, New Zealand.  My first job has been cofounding ProjectR, a virtual and mixed reality centre. It's a big job and I've only just begun.



On the off days, when things are a bit shit, it's easy to think I might have made the wrong choice.  I choose the hardest option.  But I've got a vision for my future and it doesn't involve taking the easy route. 

 And yes, I'm nervous and excited. I'm riding the rollercoaster. Wish me luck.

Jessica Manins