Judy learnt to hold her own
LATE-NIGHT dancing, packing zippers into boxes and cleaning offices – these are some of the steps in Judy Lewis’s path to business success.
The Daily Examiner general manager was the guest speaker at yesterday’s International Women’s Day breakfast run by Clarence Valley Women’s Inc.
The breakfast has been running annually since 2004 and each year, allowing women across the Valley to enjoy breakfast together and listen to each other’s stories.
Judy told the gathering how she became involved in the male-dominated world of publishing.
She started in the industry at the tender age of 14 at a children’s publishing company.
“I started out on the bottom rung and within a year had moved up to being the assistant accountant,” she said. “During this time, I also became involved in the Sydney Dance Academy part time because I always loved dancing. I did that for a year and worked late nights as a dancer to get by.”
At the age of 19, Judy had her first child, Krystal, and felt the need to move into a job that allowed her to spend as much time with her new baby as possible.
“I wanted to stay home for a good six months just to be with my daughter. The money ran out fairly quickly so I decided I would have to do something from home.
“I used to pack 80,000 zippers a night into boxes of 10 and 20, six days a week. I didn’t want to go on the dole so I did what I needed to do to get by.”
Next on the cards for Judy was running a commercial cleaning business with her brother.
“We ran it at night and used to clean a 40-storey office block opposite Royal North Shore Hospital. I used to have a backpack on my back and Krystal would be in a pouch in front,” she said.
“My brother passed away just before my second child was born which was really hard for me.
“I moved from Sydney to Coffs Harbour; knew nobody but it was great. There was an ad in the Woolgoolga Advertiser for a three-day-a-week job doing accounts. It turned into a six-day-a-week job and stayed for 20 years. I then took up the general manager’s position at The Daily Examiner.
“Upper management is often perceived as the men’s club so I have had to learn to hold my own.”