Jenny Gleeson runs a Perth-based practice, Lifeworx, as well as affiliated businesses in the career development field.
Q: What is your current role and how long have you been in this role?
A: I have been running my career development business, Lifeworx, for seven years now. Lifeworx was originally based in Kalgoorlie but I moved back to Perth to care for my dad at the end of 2012. I have since started Miss J Tutoring and Redundancy Remedies to complement my Lifeworx offerings.
Q: What are some major achievements or awards in your current role?
A: Most recently, I was awarded the National Edupreneur Award for Life/Career Coaching (2015), as well as the Goldfields Home-based Business Award in 2012. Also in 2012, I undertook a Rotary Group study exchange to Texas.
Q: What was the career journey that brought you to this position and work role?
A: I hate restrictions and people telling me what I can and can’t do or achieve. I also dislike employees going unnoticed, unheard and unrecognised. I have been one of these employees and knew that I could offer and do so much more — if I was given the opportunity. Unfortunately, I only ever found one role that really let me explore my options. It was during this role, in 2007, that I won the National Miles Morgan Award for Community Development. Starting Lifeworx gave me the opportunity to combine my passions with my career.
Q: As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
A: Wonder Woman, honestly!
Q: What did you do or study upon leaving school?
A: I finished Year 12 but I didn’t do terribly well. I took a gap year and travelled around the UK and Europe. When I returned, I studied hospitality and then repeated Year 12 when I was 21. Following this, I completed a Bachelor of Arts in English, then a Dip. Ed. and became a secondary school English teacher — it wasn’t for me at all. After this, I completed my Graduate Certificate in Career Development.
Q: Who or what was a major influence in your career choices?
A: To be honest, no one. My mum always said I could be whatever I wanted to be — which wasn’t terribly helpful — and I didn’t have any career ambitions growing up. I paved my own way through life and was my own influence. I knew I was good communicator and listener, and I had always loved to write. It was rare for me to feel valued in any role so I decided to go out on my own.
Q: What were some major challenges in your career journey?
A: I was working for Salvation Army Employment Plus as a case worker. I was working with long-term unemployed clients when one of them committed suicide. This led me to question my ability to work with people who needed assistance, considering I didn’t have formal qualifications in counselling. This is when I came across the Graduate Certificate in Career Development. I then entered a role as a career adviser at Central TAFE and eventually moved to Kalgoorlie to become an industry career adviser through the Career Advice Australia initiative. After completing nine months of volunteer work in South and Central America, I returned to Kalgoorlie and started Lifeworx.
Q: What are the underpinning career development theories that inform your practice?
A: Happenstance theory, mainly. I am also a huge believer in personality profiling tools, and I’m a facilitator in personality dimensions, MBTI and about to obtain my DiSC.
Q: What are some of the major strategies used in your career development work?
A: Really listening to people, rephrasing and listening again. I also start by looking at their budget. A lot of people don’t actually have a budget and don’t realise how little they can actually live off should they decide to go back to study.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: A book written by my friend’s mum actually, called Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire. She was a migrant from Germany in the 1940s and writes about her struggles. I deal with a lot of migrants in my work and want to gain a better understanding of their situation. I am also reading Your Brain at Work by David Rock, which is about overcoming distraction, regaining focus and working smarter all day long.
Q: What is the most memorable book you have read? Why?
A: Paradise by Toni Morrison. I read it as part of a feminist unit at uni — and, wow, what a powerful book. My second favourite is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Q: What is the movie you most enjoyed? Why?
A: I recently took my dad to see The Last Cab to Darwin. A very thought-provoking movie about facing your fears and telling people how much you love them… all before it’s too late. Take tissues!
Q: What is your ‘dream job’? When do you plan to achieve this dream?
A: My dream job would be to start a training organisation that assists women to overcome anxiety, low self-esteem and any barriers that they face in being able to move forward gracefully and with ease. I would like to have a mentoring scheme run alongside this six-month program to assist them to move into the workforce confidently. I would also like a career development program to be embedded into this training, then mentor them into an occupation of choice.
I’d like to run a not-for-profit alongside this venture, which would assist clients to gain confidence and provide them with work experience and employment to add to their résumé before they move into an employment option of their own choosing.
Q: What is a life dream you still would like to achieve?
A: I would love to meet the ‘man of my dreams’, foster children and animals, and live in a two-storey home by the ocean. I would like to travel the world giving keynote addresses about following your passion with confidence and style.
Q: What is something that people don’t know about you?
A: I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of 12 and struggle with it on a daily basis. I think it has made me become more determined than ever to overcome obstacles.