Startup Stories: Dayna Stewart Director, Digital Marketing, Media & Creative Services at The Nudge Group

Dayna talks about how The Nudge Group grown since she started as employee number one, how the recruitment industry has changed over the years, and working in the start-up & scale-up space.

by hao-nguyen on November 15, 2021

The Nudge Group’s very own Dayna Stewart talks about how the company has grown since she started as employee number one, how the recruitment industry has changed over the years, and working in the start-up & scale-up space.

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Hi Dayna, great to have you here with us today! To get things started, can you tell us a little about your role at The Nudge Group?

Thanks Hao. I take on the title of Director – Digital Marketing, Media & Creative Services. I was the first “employee”; so my role has evolved quickly over the last (nearly) 2 years. 

I am now a partner and equity holder in the business, and have a focus on the success and growth of the company, both locally and internationally. I provide consulting services to a range of start-ups and scale-ups and my favourite roles to recruit are across the vast range of marketing, media and creative disciplines.

You were the first hire that Steve made when he started Nudge. Talk about what it was like being the only team member for a while, and how the culture has changed as the company has expanded globally.

I definitely took the leap of faith joining as employee number one, especially as I’d been in my previous role for 10 years. But I had known Steve for 15 years, respected him, admired his vision, loved his innovation and passion for building lasting relationships and successful businesses, and I was pretty confident that anything he wanted to achieve – he would.  

Looking back on things, it’s been a crazy and exciting ride. When I joined (and still today) the mission was to be “the name” people think about in the start-up and scale-up recruitment space. However in my third week of joining (March 2020), the COVID pandemic hit Australia and the normality and consistency of what we all knew changed for the foreseeable future.

Wow, talk about timing. How did you guys push through that period, especially with just the two of you? 

Steve and I really knuckled down. The recruitment market came to a bit of a halt due to the uncertainty, but we worked harder and longer hours than we had before. We really focused on additional services to offer clients, beyond “filling a role” and I think that helped us to evolve and become stronger as a business. We also talked often, laughed (and vented) a lot, but together, we kept our motivation levels high. We were determined to make this business a success so there was no option to fail.

Before we knew it, we were busier than we had been in years, and I don’t think it’s slowed down since. Today, we have nine staff across Australia, UK and Ireland and we cover clients across all of APAC, UK, Europe and America. 

We own two awesome content platforms, Give It A Nudge and Balance the Grind, we’ve developed Nudge Remote – an offshore staffing solution for clients to build robust remote teams and secured multiple partnerships so our clients can leverage their own brands to succeed. 

I could talk forever about how proud I am of this business and our team. As we’ve grown, the culture has really developed too – the focus has always been on experienced hires who have a passion for their craft, but each member of the team brings their own charm, sense of humour and the daily banter is hilarious.

What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the recruitment industry during your years of working?

I’ve been in the game a long time. I worked through the GFC and came out the other side. I’ve seen mobile and app development come into play, the rise of social media, MarTech, AdTech, eCommerce, all new tech & digital innovations for that matter, and all of the new recruitment that comes from that. This might be showing my age, but back when I started, resumes were faxed to us recruiters, not emailed, and no-one would have ever thought of submitting a video CV.

But, the biggest change I’ve seen in 20 years, has been this pandemic. It really has fast-forwarded the technical and digital transformation, and the way in which people work. In some ways, we’ve needed a bit of a push for a long time, and COVID created a new way of working for each and every one of us. 

We’ve also seen the rise of entrepreneurs and so many innovative start-ups growing from this crisis. Across MedTech, Proptech, EduTech, FinTech, eCommerce, video conferencing, RegTech and so on.

Speaking of all these innovative companies, you work with lots of start-up and scale-up founders, what are some of the most exciting trends you’re seeing in the space?

As referenced above, clients that have pivoted during the pandemic and those that have started during the pandemic – found a problem and solved it, these excite me. Especially when it comes to MedTech, EduTech, Health and Wellness, and eCommerce. 

I also love that a lot of these new players have a passion for purpose. They are building out new solutions to solve a problem – be that for consumers, businesses, the environment, students or the community. These start-up founders aren’t just copying something that has been done, and repurposing it, they are building out brand new solutions that make a difference.

One last question before we let you get back to recruiting. What do you think candidates are looking for when they’re joining a start-up or scale-up for the first time? 

This will depend on what stage of the start-up or scale-up journey they are joining. Some candidates are keen to be part of a pre-launch business, others would prefer to come onboard 1-2 years after launch. 

But for most, it’s really the ability to make a difference, to drive growth, develop the platform, create, refine or develop the product, and be a part of the company’s success story (a good ESOP is always enticing too). 

This is why start-ups are awesome to get into. Yes, they require a lot of hard work, processes are rarely defined, job descriptions can be non-existent, business direction and project directions can change quickly, but if you love taking ownership, have a passion to innovate, succeed, and love solving problems they can be super rewarding – professionally and financially.

That’s a great note to end it. Thanks so much for your time Dayna, it was lovely to chat to you as always. 

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