Judith Beck is the founder of executive search firm, Financial Recruitment Group and author of No Sex at Work which shares her many years of experience in the industry.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
After working in banking and finance, my entrepreneurial desire led me to form my own national executive search firm, Financial Recruitment Group, which I ran as Managing Director for over 25 years.
To follow my passion for helping women achieve their goals, in 2012 I founded Financial Executive Women (FEW) and was CEO until June 2020.
In 2020, to give back to an industry that has been good to me, I decided it was time to pass the baton for the FEW business to the next generation as an opportunity to take the already successful business to its next level of success.
I then finished my book ‘No Sex at Work’ which just launched in March and is a career must for anyone – female or male who wants to learn how to get from A to B successfully in their career. I share everything I saw over my years of placing executives in senior roles and seeing why some succeed and so many others don’t.
I also have recently gone on the board of Financy which measures and tracks the financial progress of Australian women and timeframe to gender economic equality.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am an early riser and up by 5am, I love seeing the sunrise. I don’t look at my phone or emails until 8am, as my view is that any message that came during the night won’t evaporate from my phone, so no need to keep looking at it until I am ready to answer them. 8am to 9 is the time I set for answering emails and calls left the night before.
During the day, I am regularly on the phone speaking to women on issues they have and try to help them. I feel it is really important for more experienced women to pass their experience on as much as possible to the next generations.
The book launch has kept me very busy: writing articles, doing podcasts, radio and TV. I have had to pump up my knowledge of using social media as well on a daily basis. This has taken me out of my comfort zone and challenges me to learn things that are probably very basic to the younger generations.
I try to ensure that each day includes exercise to clear my mind and keep fit, so I do a long walk in the morning and one in the evening.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Zoom is the new office. During this pandemic, we have all learnt that it is possible to work from home. Technology enables us all to be flexible and not miss meetings because of travel or personal reasons.
When I do some of my walks in the morning and evening, I sometimes take a client with me or someone I am helping. Just as easy to walk and talk if you have phone reception.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
When I ran FRG and FEW, one rule I had was that no one is in the office past 6 (including me) and must take a lunch break.
Being in the office late, is a sign of being overworked or unproductive and either would need to be addressed. I wanted people to be with their families or do things that were of interest to them outside of work because then they would be happier when they came to work.
People who continually work long hours during the week and on the weekends, could eventually burn out – this could affect their ability to make the best decisions as well as their health.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Taking two walks during the day and hiking on the weekends has been an easy form of exercise and I have found that I am much fitter and happier.
Before the pandemic when I lived in Melbourne, doing exercise was non-existent because even though I left the office at 6, it took me almost two hours in traffic to get home.
Not having to drive in traffic has given me exercise time and I am less stressed as well. It has definitely changed the way I look at the importance of living a healthy life and how that relates to work productivity.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I like watching TED Talks on YouTube and I like the TED Business podcast. I have only started listening to podcasts this year (during my walks) and listen to various ones depending on the topic.
I think it is a good idea for people to vary who they listen to so they can get different perspectives. Start by Googling top 100 Business podcasts and start from there. Also look at ones that are specific to your industry to keep up to date on technical aspects.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Zoom (I use daily), my microphone/headphones, iPad, and phone.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Vanessa Bennett from Next Evolution Performance, does a great job of understanding work-life balance.
She is a high-performance coach who has also had substantial experience in corporate life at a senior level successfully leading teams. A great combination because she has lived it and then changed careers to help others through coaching.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
So many times, people think they need to spend hours at work to be seen and heard. Most companies prefer quality not quantity.
My perception of people always working long hours continually is that maybe they were not organised or productive during the day, especially when their workload was the same as others doing the same job who were leaving at normal times.
I would always get them to do a self-assessment of their day to analyse if there were any time wasters. Every time they would find their time management was a problem and when they rectified the issue, they were able to leave work on time. I recommend everyone do this exercise for at least a week and you will clearly see where the unproductive time is going.
If you are overworking it will affect your home life, so if you take the time to have a work-life balance you will find that your work life and home life will improve because you will be happier.
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