Sacha Leagh-Murray loves her job. Leading a team of 270 people, she is the General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Laminex. She brings a wealth of experience, open-mindedness and empathy to the corporate side of design.
Sacha is a proponent for cumulative experience, drawing on her varied professional background in her role at Laminex. She began her career studying business marketing in Brisbane, before working “as a rep for Kraft foods selling Vegemite and cheese across a very large patch of Queensland,” she explains. A move into the Kraft marketing team saw Sacha relocate to Melbourne, where she reflects that the experience marketing fast-moving consumer goods “was a really good training ground from a classical marketing perspective.” In the years following, Sacha worked for several different food companies, before starting her own recruitment business in 2000. The eventual sale of this business, just before the birth of her children, afforded Sacha the ability to stay at home with them full-time for five years.
Sacha recalls her return to work being rife with compromise. “As a mum going back to corporate it’s a really big trade off. Do you put your kids into childcare full time – which is fine and a good option if that’s what you want to do – or do you give up on the corporate career?” Seeking out a former employer, Sacha found a role as Innovation Manager at Kraft Foods, working three days per week. “I had to take a big step back,” she says. “[I returned] to a role I was at 13 years earlier and a pay level I was at 13 years earlier. I had to compromise to get back in.” Once she was in, however, Sacha was able to leapfrog to where she left off, via Mondelēz, Cadbury and Kraft Foods. A role at Miele gave her “a better understanding of premium products and design and marketing to […] people who are building their dream home.” Sacha came to the Laminex Marketing team in 2017, before picking up the large additional title and responsibility of Sales Manager in 2020. She embraces the variety of her career path, explaining that a linear progression is not always the most rewarding, rather “it’s often about moving industries or moving sideways to really build out the breadth and depth of experience.”
This experience informs how Sacha works now; a quality perhaps best demonstrated in the flexible work arrangements at Laminex. “We have a work from anywhere policy,” Sacha explains. “Since we’ve done that, I’ve hired marketing people in Byron Bay and Adelaide and across the country; it’s actually been a really good move.” This flexibility championed by Sacha also extends to working hours, with full time roles being condensed in order to accommodate parents returning to work. “We’ve tapped into this pool of amazing female talent that want a really stimulating, rewarding job with a good career path that isn’t necessarily able to do 40 hours a week right now.” Sacha recognised the opportunity within such circumstances, creating a win-win situation. “We’ve got some really fantastic women back into work or into Laminex that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attract or afford. If you just be a little bit more flexible and agile with what you really need, you can tap into an amazing network of parents.”
On the ground day-to-day, Sacha’s chief concern is the safety of her team. “It’s really important to me that people feel psychologically safe at work, that people feel able to be themselves, their true selves, and not have to pretend to be somebody they are not.” There is a focus too on physical safety, with the building industry often posing safety risks. Sacha explains that sharing personal safety stories – and a certain level of vulnerability – play a key role in “making it so that people feel okay to say, ‘I don’t feel safe doing that’ or ‘I don’t feel safe going into this workplace’.”
The collaborative nature of her role sees Sacha working with everyone from scientists to designers; her propensity for variety is satisfied, mirroring the diversity of her professional experience to date. “Every day is different – one day you’re down at a factory in your high vis and work boots, the next day you’re talking show room design with an interior designer. The variety is amazing.”