Women Embrace  Part-Time CEO Positions



The part-time CEO. At first glance,  it seems like a contradiction.  How exactly is a boss supposed to “lean out”?

But plenty of successful businesses operate this way – and the benefits to women, especially those juggling families, are obvious. Three part-time CEOs tell PRIMER how they get it done.

Elizabeth McKinnon and Nicola Rivers are co-CEOs of Environmental Justice Australia, a public interest legal organisation with a staff of roughly twenty, who are mostly lawyers.

When and why did  you start?

We’d worked together in the past and were already close friends. The job was advertised as a full-time role, but we made the decision to apply for it together last year, as we both had young families.

Any hurdles?

The main thing was convincing the board and helping them understand what our operating model would look like. But after the first meeting the board and the staff were really excited.

How do you make it work?

We split the week in half – we do three days each and then have one overlap day. Wednesday is the day for meetings, problem solving and joint decisions. We say to everyone - treat us like one person. We have one email account, so are across each other’s conversations.

Pros and cons of sharing the top position?

Of course, there are challenges, as there should be in a leadership role. We are still fine-tuning our handover day. But the benefits outweigh the challenges so significantly.

“It’s not an arranged marriage – Nicola and I love each other and we love what we do, so there is a tremendous amount of trust there between us.”

Michelle Le Poidevin is the part-time CEO of innovation consultancy firm, Inventium with a staff of ten. She works four days a week.

When and why did  you start?

In mid 2020, we trialled a four-day week, where we worked 100 percent, for 100 percent salary in 80 percent of the time. We implemented it in late 2020. Off the back of COVID I recognised that more flexibility was required, and I wanted the team to feel like they were kicking goals at work and in life.

How do you make it work?

“We are more productive and more respectful of each other’s time. This is particularly the case for meetings, which are now far fewer, far shorter, and more structured.?”

Pros and cons?

This practice is a true demonstration of trust in your employees, but there are no real disadvantages. Friday is now a day that I can use to think, read, learn new skills or have the space to catch up if necessary. This has been invaluable.

Alex McCabe and sisters  Kate Heppell and Hayley Pannekoecke share the role  of founder and CEO of homewares and apparel brand, Kip&Co.

When and why did  you start?

When we started Kip&Co in 2012, it was something we tried to fit around our busy lives. We’ve made the choice to prioritise our family and friends and Kip&Co needs to work around that.

How do you make it work?

We’ve hired an incredible team, who we empower to make decisions autonomously. We communicate a lot on WhatsApp, but we do so with brevity and act decisively.

“You shoulder the stresses of small business together, and have someone who truly understands the blood, sweat and tears that it took to get you there. We sometimes disagree, of course, but the cons are few and  far between.”

Meet The Women Making Thousands From Their Wardrobes



Read more about these part-time CEOS at PRIMER.


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