This is by no means the first article on Julie West, a long-time local accountant and tax agent in south Tweed and a passionate community player. Julie drew our attention because she’s been playing a key role in building networking opportunities for local businesswomen over the past five years. We wanted to find out how she manages it all and if she is finding a good healthy, happy balance.
Her life is busy, there is no doubt about it. Julie is a very passionate lady and very upbeat. When I asked her if she has ever hit the wall or burnt herself out she was clearly confused and had no idea what I was talking about. That was a good sign!
Julie has racked up a few awards in recent years for her networking and charity work. In 2012 she was award Woman of the Year for Tweed Shire and in 2013 she won the Count Charitable Foundation charity award. Every year Julie chooses a charity that she will back and then she literally puts her back into it, and drags the family along with her.
In 2013, she assisted in raising funds to purchase a new van for local charity who support the homeless ‘You Have a Friend’ and was team captain for Team Tweed who raised $30,000 to participate in the ‘Ride to Conquer Cancer’.
So I mentioned the women’s business networking. Julie has held positions of vice president, treasurer and social coordinator for the Business Networking International, Eagle chapter over the past five years. She also started a ‘Women in Business’ lunch in Tweed around four years ago with raffles, a guest speaker and fundraising for a chosen cause. The lunches have grown over time to what is now around 60 business women attending the lunches every few months.
To top it all off Julie has also been Director and Accountant at her practice Cummings West for the past 20 years while supporting her family - she’s married with two teenage boys who get swept along to charity events regularly. She is also a voluntary board member with a local Not for Profit organisation since 2001.
Her eldest son recently went to Cambodia with Rotary to help at a women’s refuge, which Julie is very proud of. She’s hopeful that her passion will rub off on them both. It’s certainly starting to look that way.
So how does anyone manage to lead such a busy life and not burn out? This was the juice that we wanted to find out.
It’s certainly not rocket science or spiritual secret. Julie’s answer to it all is to MAKE SURE YOU DO HAVE BALANCE.
“If you are going to work long days, you need to have fun as well”.
Julie gets up and exercises every morning to swim, run or ride and on Saturdays she gets involved in triathlons.
About the long work days she said “It’s hard to get out of the office at 5pm, it rarely happens, but if it does it’s so I can go and do something fun like stand-up paddle boarding with my husband, one of his favourite activities, it’s never to run home and cook!”.
Julie and her husband recently took a 3-month sabbatical and went on a life-changing holiday through Europe. “It was the holiday of a life time”, she said. “We were actually worried that we’d get some backlash from clients and friends about it, but everyone was really supporting, they know we work very hard and they all thought we deserved it, which was a relief.”
So as well as having to blend in plenty of fun Julie also believes her ability to keep the balance is from having a supportive family and supportive work colleagues.
Her final tips for other busy businesswomen trying to find balance in their lives while trying to do it all is to:
- Write your goals down. If you write them down, they will happen! Remember Julie picked a different charity to get behind each year.
- Make sure you are talking to the write people. Those who are a good influence on you and are optimistic, positive people.
Julie’s goals this year is to increase her knowledge about corporate governance and do her Bronze medallion with her 13-year-old son. She is not quite sure which charity she will support yet, but she will certainly be doing another one this year. So if you are involved in a charitable program now is the time to let Julie know about it!
Thanks Julie, all the best for you and your family for 2015!