Cover Photo: Bumble

From working at a PR agency to leading the fight for gender equality with women-centric dating app Bumble, here’s how Lucille McCart does it all

We might live in a world that values gender equality and where more and more women are taking up positions of power and making big, corporate decisions but did you know that a recent study by women-first dating app Bumble found that 41 per cent of women in Singapore still believe men should make the first move?

“Most women in most countries around the world have not been socialised to make the first move or take control of what they want. That doesn’t mean that they can’t do it, but it often means that they don’t know how or don’t have the tools to do so,” explained Lucille McCart the APAC Director of Bumble who admitted that it took her ten years to reach this dream job where she gets to make big changes in the fight for female empowerment. 

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McCart started out studying communications at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, New South Wales where she received a Bachelor of Communications.

When she graduated, she managed to secure her first job in public relations (PR) in 2012 where she was responsible for managing media relations on behalf of her clients.

She rose through the ranks quickly and eventually ended up helming the accounts of major clients such as Westpac, Mumm Champagne, Neutrogena, Aveeno, Virgin Australia and Specsavers. At one point, she even worked with Bumble as part of their early launch phase in 2017. 

“In hindsight, it makes a lot of sense how it happened because I spent most of my career pre-Bumble working on brands that were marketing to women audiences, so when I was offered the job it didn’t come out of nowhere but I definitely didn’t see the trajectory I was on at the time,” McCart said reflectively.

After spending years in the PR industry, McCart decided that it was time to start pursuing something different. In 2019, McCart moved to Bumble where she started out as a senior marketing manager. 

Bumble is an online dating application that allows women to take charge. Women are required to make the first move by starting a conversation with a potential match. The company itself has been making waves as it encourages integrity, kindness, equality, confidence, and respect on its platform. It is also heavily involved in pushing for gender equality and encouraging women to take charge of their dating lives.

While McCart admits that she can see how everything in her PR career led to her working at Bumble, she does admit that she was never one who was particularly interested in feminism or women’s issues personally.

“I grew up in the girl power era and was completely obsessed with the Spice Girls like so many women born in the late 80s and early 90s were and for most of my life, I  considered myself a feminist and politically progressive, but for a long time I wasn’t particularly engaged with women’s issues or the movement,” she admitted.

It wasn't until she joined Bumble that she began to realise how much more work was needed to push for gender equality. 

“I have to give a lot of credit to Bumble for reigniting this passion in me when I started working with the brand in 2017. These days it’s something I spend most of my time talking about and thinking about, but I wasn’t always like that,” she said.

She continued by saying, “I think this is something that is really important to talk about because a lot of women that I’ve spoken to feel like it’s too late for them to speak up about issues that are important to them because they might not have been a good ally in the past.”

McCart’s talent very quickly shone through in her work as she became the driving force behind the brand’s partnership and marketing strategy.

After nine months, she was promoted to country lead and then to APAC Communications Director in February 2021.

Now, McCart leads the communications strategy for Bumble across Australia, New Zealand, India, and emerging markets in the Asia Pacific. In fact, four years later and you will be hard-pressed to find a greater feminist. 

“As soon as I started talking to people about Bumble and the idea of women making the first move, I was really surprised by some of the reactions. Back then, dating apps had a bad reputation, but the idea of women showing romantic interest or exercising agency in their dating lives really shocked some people. It rocked me that so many women were demanding equality in the workplace and in so many other parts of their lives while holding incredibly traditional views about gender roles when it comes to dating,” she said.

In fact, it was this that made McCart so determined to use her position to change things. 

“By inviting women to exercise their agency and have control within their dating lives by making the first move, we are creating a space for people to form meaningful connections that lead to lasting relationships. I think it’s so important to take this message to as many women as possible around the world, and luckily it is now my job to do so,” she said with a smile before adding that she felt that gender roles no longer serve anyone. 

Of course, it is no easy feat to be working in a stressful industry while juggling colleagues and timezones that span the globe while having time for family, friends and herself. 

Below, McCart shares how she does it all in her own words. 

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What is a typical morning like for you?

Lucille McCart (LM): Working for a global company like Bumble means that there is activity happening around the clock. On a weekday morning, I like to spend the morning catching up on emails and Slack messages, reading the news and connecting with my US-based colleagues.

Then I usually like to do my exercise for the day — normally I’d go to the gym, but in lockdown, this has meant a walk at the park or beach near my home in Sydney while listening to a podcast. Then once that is done I’ll go home, shower and in normal times head to the office to get started on the rest of the workday.

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What do you usually have for breakfast?

LM: Breakfast food is my favourite — being Australian, avocado on toast with Vegemite is a favourite, but I also love scrambled eggs. Always with a coffee — a skim cappuccino with one sugar.

What does a standard workday look like for you?

LM: Every day is different, but at the moment I’m very involved in Bumble’s expansion into Asia. So a lot of my workday is spent connecting with team members or agency partners in India, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia, and understanding what is happening in the news cycles in those markets and what opportunities might come up for Bumble.

I also work very closely with our Australian and New Zealand teams on how to keep Bumble top of mind for single people in these more established markets. So lots of meetings and lots of emails.

How would you describe your working style?

LM: I have a short attention span so long meetings or reviewing long documents is quite draining for me. I like to break up my day by splitting up these kinds of tasks with ones that can be achieved quickly so that I feel a sense of accomplishment.

How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you set boundaries?

LM: My answer to this question is probably very different now than what it would have been ten years ago when I was first starting out in the PR industry. I had no work-life balance and was terrible at setting boundaries between my professional and personal life.

These days I’m a lot better at it because I’ve learnt that my professional performance is actually much better when I have a fulfilling personal life. I’m also now in a position where I am leading a team, and I want to set an example for the people that I work with that will allow them to switch off and enjoy their free time as well.

I remember very clearly a conversation I had with a colleague a few years ago about the concept of whether we ‘live to work’ or ‘work to live’. Maybe it is the Australian in me, but I want to work to live and encourage others to do the same. No matter how much you love your job (which I do very much) it’s important to recognise that your personal life is just as important, if not more important than, your professional life.

As I work across the Asia Pacific region, I often work into the evenings during the week — on days when I know I’m going to be doing that, I make sure to do my exercise during the day so I don’t feel like I missed my chance.

For me, regular exercise is really important for my mental health. I’m also a lot more strict about not working on weekends or when I am on annual leave than what I used to be and I try to prioritise my free time equally between social activities like going for drinks with friends, and self-care activities like catching up on sleep, getting a massage or watching trashy TV.

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How do you deal with your shortcomings?

LM: I’m an Aries and exhibit some very typical Aries traits, such as being quite temperamental. I think the best thing you can do no matter what your shortcomings are is to be self-aware.

If you are self-aware enough to know what situations you are likely to respond to poorly, you can prepare yourself in advance or have better knowledge at the moment for how to deal with things. For example, when I am receiving bad or frustrating news, I try very hard not to respond with the first thing that comes to mind. A few deep breaths and a quick pause normally allow me to respond in a way that is less reactive.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?

LM: Be happy and have fun. This is what my old boss Judi Hausmann said to me when I finished working for her after six years. It kind of sums up the point of life, doesn’t it?

How do you unplug?

LM: By watching or listening to something and not looking at my phone. I like to listen to a podcast while I am cleaning the house or going for a walk, and if I am watching TV or a movie I like true crime, mystery or fantasy genres, or anything where I can really get into the storyline and not think about other things.

What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?

LM: Check my emails. It’s a terrible habit and I do not recommend it at all.

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