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Welcome to our blog series, people of PA. With each post, we’ll feature one-on-one interviews with the talented individuals on our global team. You’ll get to know the people inside the company, their story of hyper growth and what it’s really like working at Particular Audience.
Meet Alex Milliner, the Head of Operations at Particular Audience. Alex is an Australian American, currently living in Sydney, with a strong background at a big four, who has recently made the jump to a startup.
This conversation with Alex Milliner focuses on the move from a big four to Particular Audience, what a day in the life looks like and what she’s learnt along the way.
Q: Hi Alex. First thing’s first. Could you give some background on your career to date?
A: Hi, of course.
For the past 6 years, I’ve been at KPMG starting from a graduate all the way to manager. As many people do at a big four, I saw value in being given big career opportunities quite early on including leading large teams from a very young age.
During my time at KPMG, I had the opportunity to step up for a maternity leave cover as an Executive Manager for the Head of External Audit, as well as going to the US on a secondment to Dallas, Texas.
As the years went on, my role became more about managing people and reviewing other people's work rather than practically solving problems myself.
In the end, it’s this hands-on approach that I missed - and this was one of the main reasons why I was so attracted to Particular Audience.
I’m happy to get my hands dirty and like seeing my vision come to life. These things serve me well at Particular Audience.
Start ups are great for anyone wanting to see tangible results from their effort. You can come in and impact a business quickly. There’s a thrill in starting with a blank canvas.
A: A big draw of Particular Audience was the opportunity to see something scale - and have an impact that result. I wanted to be able to own the process and do things myself. That level of ownership and autonomy has allowed me to grow a lot over the past few months.
From when I first talked with James - I knew there was a natural synergy. He’s a driven and articulate boss and a great person to work with. From when I first heard of the role, I was definitely sold on the vision, which makes the day to day financial operations of the business more meaningful.
As an online shopper, I can see the impact of personalization on my shopping experience - and fully resonate with the privacy first approach to experience that we have at PA. I’m sold on the products as much as the business itself.
Q: How would you describe the culture at PA?
A: It’s a young culture. One of teamwork and collaboration. And it's a lot more vibey than a big four will ever be.
James acutely said the other week “We all take out the trash.” Which is literally true, as well as figuratively speaking. The CEO can take out the trash, just as anyone else can.
This is this sort of culture that I thrive in.
Q: How have you found your first few months at PA?
A: Honestly, it’s been busy. But a different sort of busy. I’m inspired by what I do and love the constant problem solving.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know Viv our Head of People and Culture and the rest of team. All the leaders of the business have their own expertise and I love seeing everyone come into the business as we grow and put their stamp on different specialty areas.
That’s the best thing about my role - seeing new people and departments flourish. It’s amazing seeing people grow.
I’ve gone from seeing the results of a company to being the one who can help shape the results. And I really like that.
Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to move to a start up from a big four?
A: I would start by saying there are different standards and expectations at a big four and a startup. If you’re ready to take the risk and ownership of what you’re doing. Go for it.
Initially, I found it scary. But it teaches you to back yourself. You’re definitely going to enjoy the journey and learn a whole lot of new skills quickly.
I wouldn’t join a startup if you’re hunting for the next unicorn. Join for the journey.
Feel free to connect with Alex on LinkedIn or message her via mail if you want to learn more about the startup journey or want to know more about PA.