Judy Fitzgerald loves her work!

Judy Fitzgerald inspires me! After a long career in the corporate arena, Judy got clear on her vocational calling and threw herself into developing the skills and experience to become an effective and successful career coach. Crazy brave and awesomely committed - Jude not only loves what she does, she's a woman making a positive difference to people's lives (including mine!). Authenticity plus, read more about Jude's career.

What kind of work do you do?
I'm the career coach at Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. I work with players to help them identify post-footy careers; and then begin to plan and prepare for them.

What did you do before working with the Sea Eagles?
Career coaching in my private practice, Journeys for Change (JFC).

What’s the craziest thing about your job?
Working with 120 men –I never envisaged working in a totally male dominated industry. It’s strange – I’ve worked in the finance sector which is male power centred, but there are plenty of women around. The delightful thing about where I am now is they are the most authentic, transparent bunch of men you’ll ever meet –bullsh*t is just not tolerated and neither are massive egos.

What kind of impact do you think you have on the people you work with?
They know that they can trust me not to share confidences, that I listen, that I will help if I can and that I’ll ‘call it’ if I can’t.

What does your work week look like?
It’s a bit challenging. I’m on call a lot out of hours – player’s questions arrive at odd hours. However, typically I work 9:00-5:30/6:00 at Narrabeen 3 days a week. Monday’s I work from home. On Friday’s I do a little bit of private coaching and study.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher or flight attendant. I could see teachers made a difference in peoples lives; and flight attendants were so glamorous.

Do you see a connection between what you wanted to do as a child, and what you do now?
Definitely not the glamour! But I can see a direct connection between wanting to be a teacher, and the work I do now. I help people build awareness and recognise their potential and strengths, identity and purpose. I supporting them to find the courage and confidence to go after what they want – and, I can see it influences their lives in some way.

Have you studied?
I didn’t start studying till I was in my 40’s. I’ve done a Cert IV in workplace training and assessment. My TAFE teacher recommended I go to university, so my next study was Graduate Certificate in Change Management. I had no sense I’d be accepted into course, but I had a boss who really encouraged me and wrote a fantastic referral letter on what I brought to the organisation. I’ve done a Diploma in transpersonal coaching, a Cert IV in small business management and a Cert IV in career development. I’m currently doing my Masters in Education.

How has your studies impacted your life and career?
Studying transpersonal coaching has had a profound impact on me. It not only changed my level of self-awareness, but also my being and knowing in the world. Who I am, how I carry myself, how I articulate who I am – it completely changed everything; it changed who I am.

I am able to be more authentic in what I say, what I do. Directly, the energy I carry is much calmer. My conversation is more present. It changed every single relationship I had.  I’d describe it as a positive change because I’m more collaborative and accepting. I’ve less need to drive my own agenda and to let go of outcomes.

These changes have built trust in my relationships and it gives other people the space to be more authentic. It’s respectful, it calms conflicting conversations – I’d say it brings love into the workplace.

Do you have a mentor?
I’ve got a coaching supervisor – which is kind of a mentor. She’s a sounding board for me on getting perspective on day-to-day challenges. Having a mentor helps me stay in integrity and congruence and let go of ego.

Who do you admire?
I always admire Roma Gaster for what she’s bought to the change space. I hold Naomi Francois in high regard for her levels of integrity and authenticity. Also Joe Galuvao has recently retired as a player and he’s absolutely passionate about building awareness of mental health issues within the Pasifika community. He’s made it his life work to open up dialogue in the communities to open up awareness and commitment.

What do you want more of/less of in your career right now?
More coaching and less transactional/operational stuff.

If you could go back and change anything in your career, would you?
Possibly I could have left my last corporate role at Audrey Page earlier, but actually, I couldn’t because during that time I learned about family of origin stuff – which has been a huge part of my development. It built an awareness maturation; that I had to take responsibility and not wait for people to recognise my potential – to back myself – to be my own best friend. So whilst I have a tiny regret that I stayed as long as I did – actually, it couldn’t have been any different.

Are clothes important in your workplace?
I wear smart casual – I rarely need to go corporate, except if I’ve got external clients. The women in rugby league tend to be very glamorous, so there’s a precedent around grooming. The environment itself is not particularly gorgeous (I work in a demountable), but the women generally tend to dress up. Speaking of which, and going back to my childhood dreams, I’m actually wearing what might be described as a flight attendant dress today. It’s an old-style Qantas type uniform I got for a fancy dress party a few years ago, so maybe I am a teensy bit glamorous.

Career wise, what do you want to do next?
Work 3-days a week and continue to focus on helping people connect with their authenticity and truth. The reason I want to cut the days down is to have a different lifestyle. I find 5-days intense and wearying. I find it difficult having my day mapped out minute by minute, adhering to a schedule. I want to bring that down to 3-days of that and 4-days of freedom. I’m looking forward to having a bit more choice.

Do you work on any significant side projects?
The house down in Wahgunyah – that’s a bit of a project. There’s always work to be done, right now renovating bathroom. Also, my spiritual and emotional growth – I’m always doing something to top that up – such as attending transpersonal workshops and gatherings.

What is your standout proudest career moment?
Establishing JFC. Creating my business took a lot of courage and confidence.

What would you be doing if you weren't in your current job?
Probably what I’m planning to do. I can’t imagine doing anything else other than this – perhaps something in the community, voluntary work. But coaching is just such a part of my life in everything now.

What do you think is the biggest ‘fail’ a company does to its employees?
Inauthentic leadership –leaders cast a long shadow and so role model expectations without needing to say a word. The implication of inauthentic leadership is that the ‘leader’ can’t be trusted. There’s a lack of congruence between what they say and what they do. They have positional power, but lose out on engagement, commitment and motivation from the lesser mortals. Conversely, the greatest thing a leader can have is to be humble and have enough EQ that they hire people not for control, but to compliment their skill set.

What are you like when you’re stressed out?
I’m usually very busy, inattentive and distracted, I talk fast, I walk fast, I don’t listen, completely not present – it’s exactly how I don’t want to be in the world.

What are you like when you're relaxed?
I just feel very grounded and calm and take proper breaths. I’m a bit of a couch potato when I’m relaxed – I tend to be quiet and reflective.

What is it that you love about your life right now?
My husband’s courage.

Finish this sentence ... 'If you really knew me, you’d know …
That I’m perfectly imperfect.

If you enjoyed reading about Judy's career, here's a link for more interviews from people who love their work.