We sat down with Ellenor Cox about the importance of switching careers, chasing inspiration and working the toughest job of all – being Mum.




Please tell The Big Smoke audience a bit about yourself, and how you have come to arrive at where you are today?

I conveniently had my midlife crisis early in life and at the age of 26 left a successful corporate career and travelled overseas “to find myself”. I decided I wanted to become a film producer and I was lucky enough to meet my husband Marcus Gillezeau at the start of this new adventure.

For the next 20 years we made over 200 hours of film and television that’s been screened around the world and watched by millions, but our greatest “co-production” so far is our 14-year-old daughter Elsie Lyla!

Four years ago I decided to reinvent myself once more and embarked on rigorous training to become a Business and Life Coach. I now spend the majority of my time coaching and mentoring, a little bit of time on executive producing a few film projects and as much time as I can in my garden and on my yacht.


What has been the biggest lesson learnt so far as part of your career, from a Qantas marketing executive to an Emmy award winning film producer and now a master coach? 

 Can I list a few?

  1. Don’t be afraid to keep evolving, finessing and fine-tuning what you’re passionate about and your life’s purpose.
  2. Keep your standards around your level of personal happiness and satisfaction really high as life is too short to be mediocre.
  3. Extraordinary lives are lived by those who don’t settle for beige and who are consciously courageous in every moment of the day.
  4. Back yourself. Know yourself. Know your values and what you stand for and live by these.


What inspired you to move into this new phase of coaching and working closely with people committed to living a life of passion, purpose and meaning? 

For the past 20+ years, I’ve always had my head in a self-development book of one kind or another and have been an ardent journal writer and follower of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way series of books.

Initially, I never saw myself as a “creative” person but a couple of decades of self-discovery work has brought with it a greater awareness and reflection and my own reinvention. This third act as a coach allows me to speak with a great deal of experience about living a life of purpose and passion.

When I was producing, what I loved most was setting standards and benchmarks for my heads of Department that pushed them out of their comfort zone and challenged them to achieve things that they didn’t think they were capable of. Celebrating their achievements at the end of a film made me realise that what I was loving most was this journey as much as the finished film.


As someone who has understood both the corporate side and creative side of the arts, what do you think is the most important thing for those seeking to make their mark in their chosen fields? 

In terms of “seeking to make your mark”, first I would really want to understand what this means for them in terms of their purpose, and the big picture question of “why”.

Often, we have a tendency to throw ourselves too quickly into the implementation phase – i.e., the busy, task-orientated activities phase – rather than ensuring that the groundwork around putting strong foundations down has been done first.

I would suggest spending time on your personal, team and company values, mission, mindset and culture – get this sorted then look at how you can best tackle the outcome that you’re after with this culture and belief firmly set up.


Who is currently the most intriguing public figure for you to watch and why?

Intriguing is an interesting adjective as there are some global politicians out there whose current narcissism really intrigues me! On a more positive note, I realise that I’ve always been intrigued by disruptors, motivators and transformers.

If I was allowed to choose an organisation rather than an individual public figure, I’d like to mention GetUp!, because I see this group as playing a crucial role in these current times where so many people feel disillusioned and disenfranchised. What I love most about GetUp! is that it’s a mechanism which allows for the individual to feel like they too can make a difference. People power is a potent force and its great to see such a progressive platform for it!


What advice would you give a 15-year-old Ellenor Cox?

I’d definitely advise her to study what she feels most passionate about, rather than what’s guaranteed to give you the highest graduating score possible. Not to panic if she has no idea at this age “what you’re going to be when you grow up”. If you follow your passions your ideal career path with unfold before your eyes.

I also believe self confidence and self worth will always win out as the sexiest accessories possible for a young woman!

Your relationship with a coach can be one of the most rewarding and challenging relationships that you’ll ever have! You’re giving someone permission to be there for you unconditionally, to call you on your BS when they see it and to absolutely and passionately back you on your strategies for moving forward.


What is your favourite way to spend a day off?

That’s easy! Coffee in bed and a good write in my journal. Then a wander around the garden to check how the orchids and veggies are growing and from there a trip to the beach or heading out on our yacht on Sydney Harbour with my husband Marcus, daughter Elsie and our dog Lottie Lyell! And to top it all off – friends to join us for lunch or dinner that night on the boat!


You’ve been involved with some amazing documentaries, are there any individuals whose story you are really inspired by?

For nearly a decade I worked with world champion surfer Tom Carroll on the Storm Surfers documentary series and feature film. Tom’s pursuit of excellence had seen him twice achieve world champion status and so it was an honour to be close to someone who’d achieved this level of success in their chosen field.

However, Tom has also succumbed to a dark period of addiction and when we first met he was fragile and newly sober. His determination and discipline to recover was remarkable and it’s inspiring to see someone regain and even surpass their personal goals through day-by-day discipline and structure.


What has been the most challenging part of balancing your work and personal life?

Mother guilt! That’s a no-brainer that I know is such a common challenge for working mums. A key aspect of mothering is to be a good role model and it’s been healthy for Elsie to see me follow my passion and reinvent myself and start a fresh career in my forties.

Another key challenge has been around having the self worth and self confidence to state what my boundaries are when I need to switch from working mum to mother and to be fully present for her when needed. The time with Elsie when she’ll really need me, value my opinion and want my help, is such a short period in her life. I want her to know that I value her and our relationship above everything else.

It’s also been a rewarding to work with Marcus almost full time for over 20 years. We’ve been partners in life and work and at times that’s presented some tricky moments when trying to leave the film behind at the production office when you get home. Incredibly, we’ve managed to pull it off and have mostly really enjoyed it.


And finally, what advice would you give to those who may suspect they require coaching and mentoring to move forward in their careers?

Your relationship with a coach can be one of the most rewarding and challenging relationships that you’ll ever have! You’re giving someone permission to be there for you unconditionally, to call you on your BS when they see it and to absolutely and passionately back you on your strategies for moving forward.

It can be a busy and stressful life and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, stuck or stressed if you don’t have someone there as a trained sounding board and facilitator to help you create the best possible version of yourself.

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