100 coffees to a new career September 2020


When Jane Merrick found herself looking for work during the COVID pandemic, she made it a point to both reconnect with her existing network and meet new people by having a coffee.

Rather than simply fire off CVs and cover letters, Merrick set out to make a human connection by having 100 coffees with 100 different people.

88 coffees into her plan, Merrick had found a new role, as head of marketing at Rest.

Reflecting on what she's learned, Merrick wrote, "2020 has been an intense and unexpected year, but I will remember it for the time of reflection, learning (in the process of completing 3 courses) trying new things, being open to different experiences, getting out of my comfort zone, and most of all, being resilient."

What inspired your plan to have 100 coffees during your search for a new role?

There were a few things that inspired me. Firstly, I have been in this position before. And last time I spent a huge deal of time networking and having coffees – which is really a big part of finding the next opportunity. Network is everything. Secondly, I remember reading an article somewhere saying “there are 100 coffees between now and your next role”.

Suddenly COVID hit as I was about to embark on the networking. And I thought – how can I network when we could not leave our houses for the foreseeable future?. I put quite a reflective piece up on LinkedIn about how I was feeling, and what was going on for me personally, and just put it out there around my aim to have 100 coffees to stay connected – and it exploded.

I had over 55K view of my post, over 800 reacting, and over 100 people reaching out to have a coffee. I was overwhelmed.

Having conversations like this can be great for catching up but also a good chance to reflect on yourself and what you want. What did you learn about yourself during your chats?

I learnt that everyone has an incredible story to tell, and at some point, I could help people just as much as they were helping me. Every conversation was 2 way, and I think it was beneficial to both parties. I also learnt very quickly how to engage with complete strangers over zoom – it was great relationship-building skills that has now helped me as I start a new role in a virtual world and have to create connections over a screen rather than in person.

Was there anything that particularly surprised you?

People were so generous with their time, and showed a great deal of vulnerability in our conversations from the beginning. I do not think this would have been so successful if we were not in the pandemic environment – people appear to be more open to try things which was unexpected.

What does your background in travel, insurance, tech and government will bring to your role in an industry superannuation fund?

I have always worked in serviced based organisations in which have been both global and local, large and small, and market-leading and challenger mentality. In all of these places I have learnt new skills, capabilities and strategies to drive brand equity, and customer growth and engagement. These are the 2 key challenges I am looking to address in my new role.

Diversity of thought is important and I know I will bring a different perspective.

Is there anything about working in an office that you miss? Or anything about working remotely that you particularly like?

Yes, I miss the people!

I love day to day banter, being able to have conversations with people at any time, and bouncing ideas off each other. I like ideating with a group of people and a whiteboard – that is very hard to do at home! I definitely miss being in an office environment for some of the time.

The best thing about working remotely has to be removing any travel time, and the flexibility it presents. I can see the kids after school (albeit I have to now train them I am still "at work” when they see me), I can exercise more at lunch, and be in a comfortable environment. But to be honest, I am a people person and get energy from others, so want the face to face connection. I am looking forward to perhaps having more of an even balance of work environments and benefiting properly from both styles of working.

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