Meet Bree Kirkham, Chief of Staff
Bree recently joined Folklore as our first-ever Chief of Staff. Leaning into her experience working across three tech unicorns, she is our partners' righthand who ensures the team is supported so we can fulfil our mission of investing in the greatest technology companies across Australia and New Zealand.
I love working at a fast pace, juggling 10 different problems that require very different outcomes, and getting things done efficiently
I studied a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of International Studies at the University of Sydney, but I wasn’t meant to sit at a desk behind closed doors so my career as a lawyer was short-lived.
I pivoted into tech and had the privilege of working at a number of inspiring and high-growth tech companies including Uber, Airbnb and the American fitness subscription unicorn, ClassPass.
I was one of the first Australian hires at ClassPass in Australia which was exciting, exhilarating, and a bit daunting. I was charged with establishing its presence in the Australian market and moved my way up to managing our partner operations locally. I later moved into an international expansion role where I led the company’s launch into new markets – New Zealand, the Netherlands, Jakarta, Manila, and Mumbai to name a few. This was an exciting chapter in my career, and one that saw me combining sales, operations and management skills to launch within weeks in most instances.
Whilst the scope of this role was fascinating and we achieved so much in a short amount of time, it was tough to spend extended periods away and so I came back to Australia and took a role with Airbnb as a Market Manager for Australia and New Zealand overseeing host liquidity and managing a team of operators in Singapore, and then jumped across to Uber.
At Uber, I explored my interest in strategy and problem-solving as a trusted senior member of the strategy and planning team, working closely with senior members of the domestic and global teams. Specifically, I led the operational cadence of the ANZ Mobility business, and worked across growth projects in the Rider, Driver and Uber 4 Business units. Before I left Uber, I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the global head’s COVID recovery plan in a CoS capacity. I started to really develop my Chief of Staff skills and became passionate about this role.
I’ve landed my dream job at Folklore
During my time at ClassPass, I came to understand the power of venture capital behind a startup, specifically for international expansion as ClassPass took on around US$550M of VC capital to expand exponentially. I truly felt the force of what those cheques do and quickly started to follow Australian VCs. I also became extremely inspired by the significance of founders and founding teams and the impact they can have on the success of a business. These passions ignited my interest in VC and ultimately brought me to Folklore. I am inspired daily by the extent to which we value founders and the partnerships we build with them. I’m motivated by the incredibly talented people I work with, the portfolio companies we back, and the innovation being churned out locally.
My role at Folklore combines my favourite aspects of every position I’ve held up until now: it incorporates strategic problem solving, efficient outcomes, empathetic thinking and, frankly, just getting things done in an intelligent way. There is nothing I consider more important than having the right attitude and achieving, so the fact that I get to share that with our team, our startups, and our community is special to me.
I’m especially intrigued by startups that are challenging the norm and innovating antiquated approaches to daily life – particularly those led by women. I really admire what Payal Kadakia built with ClassPass, what Whitney Wolfe Herd has done with Bumble, what Melanie Perkins has created with Canva, and importantly to us at Folklore what Sally is creating with Arli and Manuri with HealthMatch. Each of their stories is incredible and I’d love to have a dinner party with all of these fearless female founders in attendance (I’m lucky to say that I’ve shared a few dinners with Payal already). I am fortunate to have worked closely with many amazing women so far in my career and attribute my propelled success in the tech industry to them. You know who you are!
My happy place is on the beach with my family
I’m incredibly close to my family so working on a team that understands and supports that has been important to me. From day one, the entire team at Folklore has made me feel right at home in that regard.
My family and I spend a lot of time together at Avoca beach, a beautiful coastal suburb about 95 kilometres north of Sydney in the Central Coast region of New South Wales.
Whilst I love to travel to new and familiar places with my husband and our family, I had flying fatigue from my ClassPass days and so I have to say, living the quieter life in this COVID world is actually quite welcomed. But when it’s safe to do so, I’m sure you will see me take a trip with my family. Until then, I will pass lockdown by ploughing through more subjects to gain my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Sydney Business School - I’m about halfway through. I’m also an avid reader and am reading up on venture and history (a long-time passion of mine) - currently in rotation are The Business of Venture Capital (a gift from the team) and The Daughters of Yalta.
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