Welcome to this new section of focus where a group of awesome business women meet for lunch to discuss a topic that’s relevant to the theme of this edition – in this case, health and wellbeing – and discuss some of the topics that are currently top of mind.
We met at Macau Restaurant on The Strand on a freezing cold day and immediately settled into our comfy corner table and started chatting –as if we had all known each other for years –about children, the guilt factor of trying to balance things and be everything to everyone and, of course, the delicious options on the menu.
Joining us at the lunch was a dynamic group of women from ASB Bank: Diane Hansen (Private Banking Manager), Alexandra (Alex) Dickson (Regional Manager, Business Banking), Kelly Bulloch (Senior Customer Service, Papamoa Branch), Sharon Orlowski (Commercial Relationship Manager) and Nicki McClintock (Manager, Coaching and Development) who was down from Auckland on one of her regular visits.
Over a delicious lunch – we chose the Jade Banquet – the ladies spent a few hours deliberating over our questions.
Do you think it’s possible to achieve a work/life balance?
Nicki Balance is different for everyone. Do your best and keep on trying. I’m lucky in that I have an amazing, supportive husband but not everyone has this.
Sharon We are hardest on ourselves and often want to give the best of ourselves to everyone and everything but we can’t always do this. We’re often being pushed and pulled every way and put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Asking for help can make you feel vulnerable as we often think we have to do everything ourselves.
Diane I find I have to be really strong and try to leave work on time so I can get the work/life ratio more balanced.
Kelly Communication with everyone is so important. Liaise with everyone in the family and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Diane Yes! Don’t feel bad if you can’t do everything. If you’ve had a busy day, it’s ok to get takeaways.
Alex As a solo mum, with no family in the area, I have learned to ask for help from my amazing network of girlfriends. It’s also important to be mindful of what you’re doing at the time. If you’ve committed to do something, just be in the moment and don’t stress about other things that you feel you should be doing.
Do you feel supported in your careers by other women?
Sharon We’re getting a lot better at it and I feel supported more and more. There’s a lot of support out there now.
Diane It’s ok to put up your hand and say you’re struggling or finding things a bit difficult at the moment. It’s great to be able to talk to a friend or colleague.
Kelly Once you admit you need help, it’s a relief. Often your friends are battling with the same issues.
Nicki Everyone’s got different realities and priorities. You might find it a priority to cook nutritious meals for your family every day; someone else might find it a priority to go to the gym every day or to ensure they are perfectly groomed while you are dressed in your daggy tracksuit. It’s what your priority is at the time – don’t compare yourself to someone else, it’s not a reality!
Sharon Facebook gives us the illusion that everyone else looks perfect.
Alex In reality everyone has their own challenges. There is a growing awareness of how we can help each other and that we often need help.
Do any of you set goals for the year?
Diane I set big fitness goals for the year – if they were small I wouldn’t commit as much to them. I’m currently training for the Tarawera Ultra Marathon which takes place in February next year. Every time I meet someone new I hear where they have travelled so I always have travel goals.
Kelly Personal goals are ongoing and change so much over the year. I set physical goals and I’m always thinking of the next event I want to do. I love crossing things off my ‘To Do’ list.
Alex Every year I set goals as it makes you reassess why you’re here. You’ll also know if you’ve achieved things.
Nicki I’m wanting simpler things. I would like to spend more time with family and to travel. I tend to plan 2-3 years ahead, rather than 10 years ahead.
How do you feel about ageing?
Alex It’s inevitable. It’s about women embracing and enjoying it. I have two beautiful teenage daughters and I feel I’m at the perfect time of my life and I am so enjoying it. I’ve got a lot going on and my career is going really well. Age is what you make of it and I want to enjoy this next phase of my life.
Nicki It doesn’t worry me as much as I thought it would. I’ve redefined what’s important in my life. My kids are growing so fast and it’s a reminder of how fast time goes. I spent a lot of time with an inspirational grandma who was always happy with her life and said every decade was better than the one before as there was always something new. Even though she went through tragedies over the years, she was able to find something new and exciting. So I’m just going to keep on living my life.
Kelly We should just do things and enjoy special moments and life in general. We live in such a materialistic world but, with running, which is what I like to do, you can enjoy special moments anytime. You don’t need special equipment. I’ve recently run the Tarawera Trail and, on the way back, I stopped for a few minutes and took some time to enjoy the singing birds.
Sharon Time flies. I feel if you’re not completely happy with your life, you need to do something about it…now! When you’re younger you tend to put things off. Focus on special moments, hold onto them and remember how blissful you felt.
How do you spend your free time?
Kelly I’m very active and love anything physical – gym, running, netball, etc. That’s what makes me feel good. I love to feel strong and I like to see strong women. The sportswomen at the Commonwealth Games were so inspiring. I also love hanging out with my girlfriends. Family is everything to me so I always make a conscious effort to do things as a family and make special trips to see extended family. Even if it’s just calling into Mum and Dad’s in Te Puke for a cuppa or an easy dinner, every effort is going to count in the long run.
Nicki What free time? Any free time I have, I spend playing with my kids. I should spend more time studying but often wonder if I have bitten off more than I can handle. I would like to do something for myself though. I would like to add in some free time for myself.
Sharon As my kids have gotten older I am doing a few more things without them. I love travelling and, later this year, I’m going away with a girlfriend.
Diane We have an avocado orchard which takes up a bit of my free time. I also participate in triathlons, running and swimming events. Otherwise I love to catch up with girlfriends and go shopping. My ideal would be to do nothing but then I feel guilty as there are always chores to do. There’s also an expectation of what we should be doing with our free time. My husband and I often go overseas – that way, I can do nothing but relax.
Alex I’ve taught myself to cook and I’m really enjoying it. Each month I challenge myself to prepare a new recipe. I’m really enjoying Nadia Lim’s cook books.
What are some of the positive things about living in the Bay?
Kelly It’s just so accessible to everything. We can take the kids to the beach, to lakes, to mountains or into the bush.
Diane New people are moving here all the time and they are bringing new experiences and unique events into the area, which is really great.
Sharon I love the beach, and the lifestyle is great. It’s a relaxed environment and everything is so accessible.
Alex I’ve moved here from Auckland and love the fact that you can get around without too much drama.
Nicki Family is so important to me so that’s why I’m in Auckland but I love coming to the Bay for the all reasons everyone has stated.