#wegiveascot about chatting with people who inspire us. For this edition of Takes 2, TwoScots spoke with Julie Raffe, the Finance Director of Village Roadshow.
As many of you will already know, Village Roadshow is a mass media and entertainment company active in an exciting number of fields such as cinema, theme parks, film production and distribution. We talked with Julie about career longevity and work-life balance.
Success in Multiple Roles
“The key to success in multiple roles is not being afraid to take on new things.” When Julie says this, you can tell this is something she feels passionately about, and she has repeatedly demonstrated this with her diverse and highly effective set of skills.
But for many people, trying their hands at new things can be a source of anxiety, so how does Julie suggest dealing with this obstacle? ‘Being involved in business strategy is essential, as a means to see the bigger picture and so feel confident and relaxed even when completing new tasks’. Another key element is to find a mentor in the business who champions you.
Village encourages a culture of promoting from within. Because of this, Julie was able to experience several roles in different areas over her 29 year journey at Village, before taking on her current role as Finance Director. She notes the key challenge and opportunity of her latest position is how broad it is in scope. Luckily, the places from which she draws inspiration are varied, such as professional training with EY and KPMG, networking and being an active member of FEI (Financial Executive Institute), to name but a few.
Inspiration Helps To Handle Industry Challenges
Julie, who successfully relocated to Melbourne from the UK, says that the key to career longevity is adaptability and honesty about areas of improvement. This also applies to the business itself.
“We had to focus on customer service and innovation,” she told TwoScots, when discussing how Village went on to create V-Junior and Gold Class; “being innovative and being a leader on customer service and ensuring quality food” were fundamental to the success of these new concepts.
When it comes to corporate culture and customer service, Julie turns to industry books, such as Be Our Guest from Disney, as a way to learn about standards in the field.
In the business world, Julie believes it’s crucial to draw inspiration from diverse places. For this reason, part of her routine involves reading and listening to industry-related content. She values a lot of people who inspire her for lots of different reasons, such as those who work in philanthropy because ‘passion becomes their life’, she notes her admiration for people like Jeff Kennett for starting Beyond Blue, from scratch.
A Passion For Team Leading
Julie transitioned well into her role as a team leader. She describes herself as a leader who doesn’t like to micro-manage, trusting her team to perform. Instead, she prefers to tell people what’s in her head.
“I like to talk to people, no forms- just tell me what’s going on in your world and how we can work together to go forward.”
Intrigued by this refreshing approach to team management, we asked Julie to describe an experience in which she had to pull a team together to resolve a problem.
“Recently, we have been working on the OneCo project aimed at improving efficiencies between the operating divisions and corporate. We brought a team together: Project Director, Manager and then all divisions; all the CFO’s, and a superstar out of the cinemas. My goal was to break down the communication barriers – two marketing people, from separate divisions had never met each other; the goal was to share their learnings across the group as much as possible.” This was met with initial apprehension, but it was her aim to strengthen the team by breaking down those walls and she was happy to report that “It worked… but it’s a work in progress”.
Pro-Tip: Raffe on Work-Life Balance
Julie states that a work-life balance is, “Very important… you’ve got to make space for the family, and Village is very accommodating in this aspect – Village is very family orientated.” In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family first and foremost. Work demands could be constant with different timezones and the business is 7 days a week. You have to consciously make time for yourself and the family, switching off is important.
Advice for Aspiring Financial Directors
To any aspiring or newly qualified accountants, Julie gives the following advice: don’t be afraid to do new things, and look around to see what interests you.
“Take on new projects – and keep reevaluating your goals!”
Julie Raffe is Financial Director at Village Roadshow. She also serves on several not-for-profit boards including Entertainment Assist. We thank Julie for taking the time to talk with us and share business insights and personal philosophies behind such a successful career.