It was our pleasure to catch up with the very inspirational Kelly Parker; Director at Murfett Legal. Kelly was nominated for the 2019 40Under40 awards for her fantastic contribution to the industry.
Kelly heads up business advisory insolvency and commercial tech and is driven to help her clients achieve the most out of the business regardless of what growth phase they are in.
How did you get to where are you now?
When I left school, I was told I would probably make a good travel agent. So, I went to TAFE and got a certificate in travel and tourism. I worked in a few different roles in travel and tourism and found that the people working in roles I wanted had uni degrees. So, I applied to uni and started a commerce degree while I was working full-time. As part of the commerce degree I had to do a business law unit. I really admired the knowledge of the lecturer and the way that the lecturer spoke and decided to transfer to a law degree.
I started at Murfett Legal in 2007 while I was finishing my degree. I had just returned from studying and working in Europe, was broke and needed a job.
I started as the receptionist and PA to Nick Murfett (who established our firm) but only lasted in that role for about five weeks before being promoted to office manager of Murfett Legal. Six months later I was an articled clerk. There is not a job in the firm that I haven't had. I left Murfett Legal for a little while and tried another firm for a very short period of time but came back after my first child and worked my way through various legal roles until I was appointed director in 2017.
What’s your biggest accomplishment to date?
My biggest accomplishment is, I think, standing here today. It's been a tough road at times and I have plenty of opportunities to give up:
• I had postnatal depression after the birth of my second child.
• My marriage has gone through some crappy times.
• I have really had to consider on various occasions whether being a lawyer is really worthy all the stress.
• My family is unusual, my husband is the primary care giver, he drops the kids off at school, takes them to afterschool activities and works part-time while I am the primary breadwinner. It works really well for our family but there is still plenty of “mummy guilt” and judgment of our arrangements from outsiders.
• Shortly after I bought into Murfett Legal, one of my business partners resigned and exited the business unexpectantly.
However, I have never given up! My family is happy and healthy. My business partners and I have built a great team of lawyers and succeeded in growing our firm. So, to actually be standing here today, that's probably my biggest accomplishment.
On the other end of the spectrum, what’s been your biggest challenge?
I think I probably answered this along with my biggest accomplishments.
I truly believe that the biggest challenges we face provide the best opportunities for growth and learning and ultimately make us a better version of ourselves.
Being a mum, wife, and director, how to do manage your work life balance?
I read something quite a few years ago that said, "Work life balance is the next stereotype and pressure point for working people.” It is just another standard to fall short of.
I think about work life balance differently. I focus on being present regardless of whether I am at work or at home,
I strive to ensure that my time is spent productively, efficiently and effectively.
I don't think about the number of hours I spend at home with my husband and children, rather I focus on spending quality time at home. There's no point in me being the one picking the kids up from school if I'm going to be stressed out and agitated after leaving the office early and yelling at the kids and us all ending up miserable. Instead, I tend to get home around dinner or bedtime, I do kisses and cuddles and stories, and it's a positive experience for everybody. I achieve my work life balance by being present and spending quality time at both work and home.
Female partners/female entrepreneurs/female lawyers. How do you feel about the fact that we're defined by gender more often than not?
I have never really felt limited or defined by being a female. I grew up with parents that told me I could be or do anything I wanted. I'm not sensitive being referred to as a female anything, so I usually don’t really hear it if I am referred to in that manner.
I am blessed to work in a firm where gender is not a limitation. We have a well balance workforce. I don’t refer to my co-directors as my “male co-directors” and they don’t refer to me as their “female co-director”, we are just co-directors.
I am proud of my achievements and if someone wishes to label my achievements by placing the word “female” in front of them, then perhaps it will help to encourage other women to work hard and strive to achieve their goals.
Advice for other women who want to be at the top of their game like you are?
Be unapologetically authentic and true to yourself.
There is not a one size fits all model for success. The way that I have reached my goals will not necessarily work for everyone. Not every family will have the opportunity (or desire) to have a husband that is a primary care giver for their children and not every woman wants to work full-time and put in the hours that I do.
It is really important to work out what makes you happy, set your goals, decide where you are prepared to compromise and what your deal breakers are and filter your decision making through those lenses.
What’s your legacy?
Within my family, I want my two boys to grow up seeing a world where gender isn't a differentiator, where there are no gender-based stereotypes about the jobs that we have or the roles we play within our families.
In business I would like to leave a legacy of having been unapologetically authentic, hardworking, fun loving and having helped the next generation of leaders to succeed.
Thanks for your time, Kelly, and we wish you the best of luck in the upcoming 40Under40 awards!
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