Upon Reflection with Charley Wilkinson
In our latest series, Upon Reflection, as part of our personal growth and transformation here at Hyper Island, we catch-up with alumni out of Asia Pacific to discuss their personal journey of growth and highlight our most valuable takeaways to support lifelong learners of the future. In our second edition, we speak to Charley Wilkinson of Crew 9 and Founder of Hello Sister and Side by Side.
Hey there! Give us the lowdown on who you are and what your current role is in the world of work?
I guess I have two roles in two businesses where I am a founder - Hello Sister, which helps businesses understand women better, in order to innovate smarter and engage with them more effectively, and Side by Side - using behaviour change to drive Asia-relevant diversity and inclusion initiatives in the region.
What triggered your adventure with Hyper Island? Why did you choose us?
I started dealing with clients who were on their own business transformation journeys and I really wanted to broaden my knowledge base outside of consumer understanding, marketing and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). I needed something that was flexible but also something that was really relevant in Asia and I have known of Hyper Island for a long time now.
How did Hyper Island support your transformation?
It’s really just brought me up to speed with the digital world we live in but also opened my eyes to more diversive thinking than ever before - be it perspectives, people or platforms.
How has your industry been affected by the pandemic and where does it go from here?
Well client budgets were all cut immediately, and women and minority groups have suffered more during the pandemic than anyone else (for example, when it comes to working from home whilst coping with kids homeschooling, which has mostly been the responsibility of the mom not dad).
Minorities in many countries were also more likely to get sick and die, pregnant women having to give birth alone, BUT on the positive side, I have seen that the gender and minority gaps have now become glaringly obvious, and companies and governments are finally looking to address them. For example two years ago many women asked to work-from-home or have flexible working arrangements but it has become the norm and just needs to be managed a different way.
Slowly the briefs are starting to flow in now though after a lean 18 months...
Any advice for other people thinking about studying at Hyper Island?
Embrace change, keep an open mind and constantly look for sources of inspiration.
What is the one piece of advice that you live by?
My Asia-born grannie always said: “Seize all opportunities to travel!” - that has been tough advice to follow over the last 18 months though.
What is the one thing you wish you had learned earlier in your career?
Stop comparing yourself to others, everyone progresses in different ways.
What is the one thing about which you most often say:
Hmmm I know someone I can get you to speak to…
What is the one thing that people would be most surprised to learn about you?
I am actually quite shy but moving between countries a lot and having to make friends and find clients tends to force you to overcome shyness… I still hate a room full of strangers though.
Who is the one person you call in a crisis?
My mum : )
What’s the one age you would be again?
Two options - 21 and living fairly carefree as a student in Paris or age 30 and in the Beijing Olympics heyday.
What is the one trait you consider essential to your success?
Resilience - I have had some tough projects and times in my 20 years of working, but tough times and learning from them makes you stronger.
If other alumni are keen to get in touch, how do they best reach you?
On LinkedIn at or on Slack as Charlotte.