This year at 9 to Thrive, we’re bringing to you some of the most well-known women in the country. From PR mogul, Roxy Jacenko, to business owner and influencer, Sophie Cachia. But, we’re also sharing the stories of the women whose faces you may not know, but have created internationally successful businesses, from the ground-up. Their stories are just as interesting, and leave us all feeling like it’s possible.
We’re kicking off with one of our Premium members, Julie King. After starting Julie King and Associates eight years ago, Julie has led the company to an awarded winning status achieving accolades such as Best International Tourism Office (twice!), and has been awarded as a finalist in the top five for the past six years. From beginning as a kitchen assistant and waitress, we find out the nitty gritty of how Julie has done it all…
You travel so much for work, did you always have the ‘travel bug’ growing up?
As a child, we could not afford to go overseas but I was very interested in languages and excelled in French. My mother decided each summer to accommodate French students in our home so my passion started back then.
Living in Scotland, I started to travel to Europe as a teenager and in my early twenties went to Kenya, as well as Oman.
I moved to Dubai in 1996, travelled the world and have not looked back since. Travel is in my blood and just love it. I plan our personal trips five years ahead.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from travelling?
Research and preparation achieves the most unforgettable experiences. For both personal and professional, I carry spreadsheets that are detailed ahead of each trip with all bookings secured. Always leaving room for some flexibility but ensuring you are not disappointed by not getting into a favourite restaurant, attractions, etc.
Before starting Julie King and Associates, you tried your hand in almost everything in hospitality and tourism. What were the highlights?
While I was at college, I worked in hotels part time and private clubs as a kitchen assistant, waitress, and room attendant. During wedding season, I would work most Saturdays in banqueting.
My first job was a Floor Housekeeper in a 5 Star Hotel in Scotland and then five years later became an Executive Housekeeper at 23 years old. I took off to Dubai working my way up from Executive Housekeeper to Corporate Rooms Division Manager in a year. I then changed direction into Hospitality and Tourism Consulting, starting as a Junior Consultant and in 4 years was running the business as General Manager.
Julie King and Associates is now eight years old. What pushed you to run your own show, rather than work for someone else?
I decided to move to Australia to be with my future husband after 14 years in Dubai. Initially, I was going to open a branch of the business I managed in Dubai, but an opportunity came up with one of our clients to tender for their business in Australia. My partner convinced me to go for this; I won the account and then had to quickly set up the business.
The positive testimonials flow from your clients, “Warm”, “took care of everything”, and “a dream to work with”. How have you grown this culture within your team?
Working in the hospitality and tourism industry for over 31 years, opening five, 5 Star luxury hotels and living in Dubai for 14 years, providing exceptional service was at the helm of everything I learnt and executed. In Dubai, a city where everything is possible and having such visionary leaders resulted in us always saying yes to what felt like was the impossible at times and instilling that culture in our teams. The Arab culture is very special, and I had some of the best lessons of my life in the importance of relationship building and looking after our clients.
We love one of your quotes, “I can’t count how many times I have found myself out of my comfort zone over the last 31 years in the industry? Being in an unstoppable, fearless state allows you to accomplish the goals and dreams most important to you and nothing gets in your way.”
Where did that “unstoppable, fearless” state come from?
I didn’t have the qualifications to get into university so took a Diploma in Hotel Management at College and was determined to prove my parents wrong that I could achieve something from the Hotel Industry.
The two key messages I always standby is that:
- Experience can lead you to the same place as education as long as you have passion, determination, drive and work hard
- Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something
What has been the best thing that’s happened to you as a result of going outside your comfort zone?
Two key things come to mind for me:
I was made redundant in 2001 after working in the hotel industry for 13 years and was living in Dubai at the time. I had three months to find some work and had an opportunity to move into a junior tourism consulting role, an area I had never worked in. Four years later I was running the business as General Manager, travelling the world and delivering 150 projects in 20 countries. When I moved to Australia for personal reasons, this was the catalyst to launch my own business, pushing myself out of my comfort zone again.
The second situation was after specialising in the Middle East for eight years in our Australian business, a major client of ours changed strategy to remove their base from Australia. We were left to quickly rebuild our business, scale down at a time when I was ready to scale up. Four months on from this, we have worked day and night to push ourselves to diversify our business globally and bring new accounts in to support our structure. We are now working with clients in Spain, Japan, Seychelles and have successfully managed to major secure projects from our existing clients in Dubai.
What are the three things you wish you knew about business before starting Julie King and Associates?
Arriving into Australia having never run a business of my own or worked in the Australian business environment, I lacked awareness of:
- Employment Laws
- Distribution in Australia
- Government Regulations – taxation, etc.
We can imagine it can be really overwhelming starting and running a business by yourself. Who’s in your support network?
It took a long time for me to work out the importance of having a support group. I was so independent, determined, focused and just thought I could do it all myself. My husband has been one of my biggest supporters, having run many businesses in Australia.
What big change do you wish to see in your industry?
More females filling senior roles in the tourism industry and a balanced boardroom.
Finally – what are you excited about right now – personally, professionally – anything!
I’m excited about the next phase of our business, diversifying globally and extending the scope of our Tourism Consultancy and Sales, Marketing & PR representation services. We have some interesting new models and concepts that we are going to launch soon.
From a personal perspective, I am looking forward to our holiday overseas after nine challenging months in the business. I’m making time and allowing room in my headspace.
Julie is joining us at 9 to Thrive in Sydney.
You’re coming, right? Grab your tickets, here!