Julie Kennealy, Executive Director of the Sutton Housing Partnership, visited OBA recently to address Year 12 and 13 BTEC Business students. Julie is a Chartered Accountant who specialises in applying commercial skills in non-profit, social settings to help secure long-term, financial sustainability for organisations. She has over 25 years of experience at the most senior levels in large organisations, both public and private, and in not for profit settings in housing, regeneration and added social value industries.
Julie visited OBA to describe her journey from a humble background growing up in Liverpool, to her current position as an Executive Director. Inspiring students with her story of how, as an unemployed young mother, she turned her sense of injustice on her lot in life into ambition and drive. She returned to education, produced a set of goals of what she wanted in life namely to buy her own house, to own a car and to be able to go on a holiday – and then she just went for it!
Students were inspired as Julie described how, through hard work and determination, she was able to return to education and secure a qualification that allowed her to get a job, with a relocation allowance allowing her to move to London as a training officer.
Julie went on to say that she soon aspired to rise up the ranks of management. She described to students how she looked at those in higher positions and planned what she had to do to achieve a similar position. She then undertook the necessary qualification and rose up the ladder of success, inspiring her employers to pay for some of her education along the way, to promote the role of women in business.
Julie also described how she had overcome personal adversity on the death of her daughter and twenty years later on the death of her son in a car crash. However, she spoke about how she never gave up but rather used the anger she felt inside to drive her forward to be even more successful.
Julie outlined to students some of the amazing places her work had taken her to and the people she had met though her career. She spoke about meeting the Queen in her role as Chief Executive of a charity, being invited to Downing Street for tea to meet the Prime minister, dining at the House of Lords and being a guest in a private tennis match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic just a week before Andy Murray won Wimbledon.
Julie went on to explain to students that these were things that money cannot buy and that these privileged experiences were available to her as result of her hard work and determination.
To help students further, Julie offered them an insight into what employers are looking for in recruitment these days and gave them advice on how to succeed at interview. She then held a question and answer session with the students who benefitted hugely from her outstanding presentation.