LCW: Gill and Ali, at LCW we are all about Executives, Entrepreneurs and Young Future Leaders. Gill as an executive and an entrepreneur can you share a little about your Legal Business? How do you structure it and what area do you specialise in?
Gill: I set up my own insurance legal consulting business 18 years ago in order to be able to manage my time between work and being a mother. I decided to make it a consulting business because it gave me the flexibility to work part time and to work when it was most convenient for me and the family. I specialise in professional indemnity insurance, and directors and officers liability insurance.
LCW: How did you come to specialise in insurance?
Gill: I worked in the insurance litigation department at Mallesons, and then worked as Claims Manager for Australia for Chubb Insurance and then General Counsel for Europe for Chubb Europe. It was a natural progression that my own consultancy would specialise in insurance litigation.
LCW: You are a wife, a working mum of 3 and live 6 months of the year in London and the other 6 months in Sydney, how do you manage a bi coastal business?
Gill: Technology is my best friend! The beauty of being a consultant is that you can work from wherever you happen to be. Most of my work is done on email and via video-linked conference calls with the occasional face-to-face meeting thrown in. The hardest part is managing the time differences between Australia and the UK.
LCW: You must have racked up a few FF points. Best thing about international travel?
Gill: Although jet lag can be a shocker, I am passionate about travel and visiting new countries. I love learning about the history and culture of a place and, especially, meeting and talking to the people about their life and experiences. I also feel really lucky to have been forced to develop a more global perspective on work and life.
LCW: Which 2 women have inspired you most and why?
Gill: There are so many- Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Gail Kelly, Rosie Batty.
I admire and respect women who are successful in pursuing their passions and career whilst maintaining their femininity and commitment to relationships. The one person who has inspired me the most is my own mum. She lost her mother when she was very young but never let this tragedy overwhelm her. She was strong and determined and single minded in her dedication to her family. She taught us the importance of cherishing and nurturing relationships whilst ensuring that we pursued careers and were financially and emotionally independent.
LCW: Fave restaurant in London?
Gill: The Abingdon – a bistro pub in W8. Just down the road from our place in London, great food, great atmosphere and family run.
LCW: Ali, you are currently studying and working part time, you also have an online fashion business which is very entrepreneurial – how did this come about
Ali: I think I am one of those people that have to be busy all the time or I get bored. Cheeky Chic came about after year 10 formal season. All my friends had attended at least 2 or more formals each, obviously forcing their parents to buy them different dresses for each event. Therefore, there were a lot of dresses that were only being worn once and then sitting in the back of the cupboard for many years afterwards. I therefore decided to create a platform to both sell and buy these beautiful dresses second hand. Originally, combining this with year 11 and year 12 HSC was a serious challenge and I found it hard to put the adequate time into it, however it has managed to remain stable and hopefully will continue to grow. I try my hardest to balance, full time university, working 3 full days a week and running my business, it’s a challenge but I like to be busy.
LCW: Where are you hoping your studies will take you?
Ali: I am very passionate about the PR and advertising industry, and hoping once my degree is done I can move into this area of business.
LCW: As a young future leader where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Ali: In 3 years I will have finished university, hopefully have Cheeky Chic in a great place, as well as living and working full time overseas.
LCW: Which 2 women would you most like to meet and why?
Ali: Roxy Jacenko, she is so strong and although fairly controversial. From a professional perspective, I admire her hard work and how she has achieved so much with Sweaty Betty PR.
Diane Von Furstenberg is the other woman I would love to meet. Not only is she extremely iconic in the fashion industry, but she has built her own brand from nothing. Her talent goes beyond creativity, she’s a marketer, a designer, philanthropist and has designed a clothing brand that appeals to many different generations, and has been successful for many years.
LCW: As mother daughter members of LCW can you please share what inspires you most about each other?
Gill: I love Ali’s strength and tenacity. I am particularly proud of the way she has set up Cheeky Chic, whilst studying at Uni and working a couple days a week. She has great emotional intelligence and a fantastic work ethic and I know she will have great success in the future.
Ali: My mum has always led by example. I think it is admirable that she has managed to be a full- time mother, that dropped us off and picked us up from school every single day, pouring endless amounts of time into her three children, whilst also managing a successful career. This is something a lot of women struggle to do, but mum has made it look effortless.
LCW: Ali, what has been the best piece of advice your mum has given you?
Ali:Mum has always been very adamant about working hard. She has drilled into me, from a young age, that the only way to get where you want to go, is by persistence and dedication. Something that has stuck with me from the second she said it, was ‘the fastest way to achieve success is slowly’.
LCW: Gill, I’m sure it feels like only a moment ago that you were in Ali’s shoes – ready to finish uni and launch into a career – what advice would you give to your younger self and Ali going forward?
Gill: Think for yourself, try your hardest, take risks and don’t’ be afraid to make mistakes because mistakes are often your best learning opportunity. I would also say only keep doing something if you are having fun and are continuing to learn.
LCW: Ali, favourite restaurant in Sydney ??
Ali: My favourite restaurant in Sydney is 100% Bar Machiavelli. The food and atmosphere is so good.
LCW: What next for the 2 of you??
Gill: The beauty of the life we live and the life we have had for the last 3 years, is that we have no idea. Things are constantly changing and we have to adapt to those changes. As a control freak I find that hard sometimes, but also exciting!
For now I will continue to live in between Sydney and London, keep the consultancy business going and look forward to the times when we are with family and friends.
Ali: I will finish my university degree and then hopefully go into full time work.