With the year winding down and summer calling, we spoke to Australia’s business leaders about how they approach the festive season.



Time is a valuable resource, and with the festive season coming up, many of us take a break. For many businesses though, operations are critical over the holiday period to service those of us on a break.

So the capacity of business owners to enjoy a Summer holiday of their own, can be determined by the businesses they are running, and certainly by their preparation in the lead up to the end of the calendar year. 

While business success is obviously important, an increased awareness of developing and maintaining an improved work-life balance is at the forefront of many business operators’ minds these days. Working incessantly, without taking time out to spend with family and loved ones, can lead to burnout and worse, often at the expense of the business and relationships.

Business leaders often have the greatest demands placed on their time, so how they use the festive season to make the most of that balance, can be one of the most important decisions they make, and set the tone for their company’s culture.

There are many different approaches that business owners take in the lead up to and during the festive season. We asked four Australian industry leaders how they reflect and refocus over the Christmas and New Year period – the ‘great’ Australian Summer – and what’s in store for their industry and businesses in 2020. 



Stella Petrou Concha, CEO, REO Group

As Founder and CEO of leading Australian recruitment consultancy, REO Group, Stella’s mission is to ‘elevate human potential’. “I learned the hard way,” Stella explains, “that not scheduling regular breaks results in burnout. Now I book a one week holiday every three months.” 

Her approach to the festive season is to guide her team through a reflection of the year. Much like writing a book – visualise the cover, the title, the chapters, and really zero in on what’s been achieved.



Stella then has them write the synopsis for the back cover, highlighting their accomplishments and journey throughout the year. 

During her festive season break, Stella also takes time to undertake her own personal SWOT for the year, and creates a mind map of what she aims to achieve in the following year. 



Lachlan Grant, CEO, Vital Addition

Tax and accounting firm Vital Addition winds down for the festive season. CEO Lachlan Grant does lead his team, which provides advice and support to entrepreneurs and SMEs, through a review of the year, though because they do regular assessments of the business status and strategies throughout the year, it’s more reflective than strategic at Christmas-time.

Lachlan himself takes a long break over the Summer, as he’s engaged to a teacher. They are usually holidaying with family, sometimes overseas, and regularly at Yamba on the far northern NSW coast.



He welcomes the opportunity to switch his phone to silent, and catch up on some reading (albeit about business, politics or maybe a biography), in between hanging out with his loved ones. 

“There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning for a swim in the ocean followed by a good coffee,” he tells us. But, not surprisingly he also adds, “I’ll also reflect on the year that was and what I want to change in the future. I always write down New Year’s Day goals so I can set my focus on what’s to come.”

And what is to come for 2020 for Lachlan and his team? “Continuing to take a genuine interest in our clients businesses, always seeking to leverage technology and improve our own skills especially in advisory.”



Josephine Otimi, Director, Evolve MGMT Co 

Josephine Otimi drew on twenty years across multiple industries within professional services, to ‘evolve’ into her role as a change manager and coach, later founding Evolve MGMT Co.

Her clients are strategy-driven, so for her, the lead up to the end of the year is hectic as “most clients are now being expected to do more throughout the year, so it tends to feel like a slide to the finish line getting any projects across the line before the organisation takes a break.”



So for Josephine, the festive season is time off – and sacred. “Phones off, email off, and we focus on family. I absolutely take the week off between Christmas and New Year, then really try to squeeze in a week either side of that as well.”

The Evolve MGMT team “look at the end of October to do all our planning for the following year, this includes events, key areas of growth and people that we would like to work with for the following year.” 

It also means everyone can truly take a break, and then come together in the New Year, fresh and focused. 



Mellissa Larkin, Founder & Managing Director, Peripheral Blue 

Mellissa’s been in the legal professional for over twenty years and used her knowledge and desire to make a difference, to found Peripheral Blue in 2016 “with the aim of disrupting the legal and professional services industries by giving clients access to top tier, responsive legal and advisory services in a flexible and affordable way.”

She embraces the tech revolution as a way of flexibility in the workspace, and to enable and empower her team to meet that commitment. 

Mellissa spends the festive season in Ireland visiting family every year, explaining that “the wonderful thing about our flexible working model is that we can work from anywhere! I am able to take a longer trip overseas than would otherwise be possible if I couldn’t keep working. My husband and I spend lots of time outdoors in the fresh, but chilly, air which is great to clear the mind. I enjoy a slower pace for a few weeks which allows me to reflect on the year that’s been and plan for the year ahead.”



Mellissa says she’s excited for 2020 and that Peripheral Blue – after gaining recognition throughout 2019 in a number of industry and business awards – “will be focusing on exploring measures to assist Australian companies requiring Data Protection Officers under the GDPR.”


So, unwinding at the end of a busy year is vital. Even – especially – for business leaders. Planning ahead is necessary. What each of these leaders share is the drive to review and assess the year gone by, to regroup for themselves and their staff, and visualise and plan for continued success in the new year, something we could all learn from.






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