Date posted: 03/09/2018

Joelene Kajavala: CA and women’s health warrior

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Note: This interview was conducted in 2014. Joelene Kajavala has since become the full-time Programme Director of her company, Resolution Retreats.

Joelene Kajavala's career so far has been quite the juggling act. She works as Group Financial Controller for a leading New Zealand food manufacturer while also running her own passion project business on the side. You would be forgiven for wondering how she finds the time to do it all, but Joelene says the key to it is just good old-fashioned organisation.

"A typical day for me is very busy, but I'm very organised," she says. "I pride myself on being very organised and encouraging those around me to be organised as well."

Joelene works her day job 9-5, tries to fit in some social activities when she can, and then ends the day running her own business from home - rinse and repeat. It sounds tiring, but she says that the feeling she gets from making a difference in the lives of others through her own business is its own reward.

The best thing about being a Chartered Accountant is the breadth of life that you can apply your skills to, from business knowledge to foreign exchange, to investing in the share market and also the people that you meet along the way.
Jolene Kajavala CA, Group Financial Controller, Greenmount Foods Group

She was a driven and focused university student, dividing her time between studying, working part-time for an accounting firm and undertaking two internships in auditing. Joelene touts the benefits of getting real-world experience as early as possible, alongside the skills you gain at university.

"Getting those insights into how a business works in the real world and what a chartered accountant does - I can't recommend highly enough," she says." "If you're still on the fence as to whether you want to become a Chartered Accountant, being in a business and seeing what they do gives you the benefit of knowing."

Upon finishing her studies at the University of Waikato, she jumped straight into a managerial role at Port of Tauranga Limited. By the age of 22, she was already in charge of a team of five. Joelene says she was able to grow a lot in this role over the next seven years, which was the key to preparing for her next challenge.

Becoming Group Financial Controller at Greenmount Foods Group allowed Joelene to work with people in senior roles and a variety of stakeholders in the business from a young age. As a chartered accountant, she was already equipped with the ability to exercise professional judgement.

"When a Chartered Accountant speaks, people listen. They've got a lot of knowledge, they've usually got a lot of experience, just because of the experience requirements that are due to that Program, and people take what they say seriously," Joelene says.

Becoming a CA provided Joelene with a strong business knowledge, which has been invaluable to her as a business owner. The Program allows those with an entrepreneurial spirit to learn valuable lessons in business management, risk, foreign exchange and customer experience.

"Here is the advice that I'd give to someone starting out in the Chartered Accountants Program: it's hard, but it's hard for a reason," Joelene says. "It puts you ahead of everybody else in a set of CVs when people know what you've been through to get that designation."

Despite having a variety of career options on her radar, becoming an accountant was always at the forefront of Joelene's mind. Something that wasn't, however, was starting her own business. She launched Resolution Retreats in 2012, with a mission to help women reach their weight loss goals and reclaim their self-esteem. She defines this work as a career highlight, due to role she plays in helping others.

Jolene Ranby CA

Jolene Kajavala CA, Group Financial Controller, Greenmount Foods Group

"It's not something that I had initially wanted to do, but it's been really rewarding for me to see how a business operates and take on the risks that you have with a business ownership from start to finish, and also to use what I do and what I love to help people."

Joelene has seen success in both accounting and her entrepreneurial ventures, and has three tips to share with others: work hard, network to find new opportunities, and continually learn and grow. It's an approach which has paid off for Joelene, giving her a fulfilling career that she loves: "It's really exciting that I get to help everyday women with their body challenges and improve their confidence and their health, and build friendships in my business that I've developed."