Where are you from?
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
What’s your background?
I am a Queenslander but I was born in Charleville which is way outback. I lived all my formative years at primary school and high school in Brisbane but when I was 17 years old I moved out of home and to Canberra where I lived on my own and was a professional athlete for many years. And it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I came back to Brisbane. I’ve come back to a city that I barely recognise. It’s changed so much.
I lived in Sweden for a year when I was 13 and 14 and was first introduced to the sport of volleyball. In winter over there you could either go out and play in the snow or you did indoor sports. I tried my hand at volleyball. Being tall I had quite an athletic background so I took to it like a duck to water and found myself quite talented at it. Then, when I came back to Brisbane, between the ages of 15 to 17 I played at the state level in women’s volleyball.
And then literally the day after I graduated I was on a plane to Canberra going to the Australian Institute of Sport on a scholarship for women’s volleyball. This was all in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, so the government had put a real emphasis on the Olympics and had put a lot of money into sport. For the next three years, I became a professional athlete. It was my job and I did 60 to 70 hours a week as a volleyballer travelling the world.
Describe your life right now
Uncertain. I’ve had a number of careers since I was a professional athlete but I feel that every career I’ve had has contributed to where I’m at now. So I’m the founder of a startup and I’ve been full time in a startup for the past 2 years.
And it’s a very uncomfortable and uncertain place to be especially when you have children. I have to use all the tricks in my book to keep getting up out of bed in the morning, keep having a go, putting one foot in front of the other, and keep driving my business forward.
My life at the moment is unpredictable but I do feel like I am making progress towards where I want to go.
What’s important to you and your life?
I have a lot of thoughts about this. As a mum, raising my kids to be good humans is probably my main driver. In fact, a big part of my startup is about providing a good digital future for them. I want them to be able to navigate a digital world and be able to know what’s right from wrong, be able to make decisions, be able to think for themselves and be empathetic towards other people. I do feel that in a digital environment we’re losing a bit of empathy for others cause we’re losing a bit of face time with our peers. So that’s a real focus for me and my household and in my life, everything I do really is for them.
What specific experiences have shaped your view?
The main reason I founded a startup is because digitally we’re creating an enormous digital footprint. We are documenting every part of our lives on a scale like never before and this is particularly problematic as parents documenting our childrens’ lives.
I am the custodian of their future and the custodian of their past. I’ve documented them since day 1, since they were babies to where they are now, and they are now 5, 8 and 10 years old. I have literally thousands of photos of these tiny humans.
The reason I built my startup is so I can make sense of that for them, so that when they’re older I can hand them their life and go: this is your childhood, this is you, how I’ve seen you, how I’ve raised you and the things that you’ve done. And they can take that forward and live their future knowing that it’s all sorted and makes sense and they’re able to do something with that digital future.
Majella Edwards is a former Olympian and the founder and CEO of Sortal.