Julie Finn has always been passionate about helping people. That passion led her to found the Working Mother's Mentor, an organization that helps empower women in their careers through inspiring podcasts, programs, and other resources. Working with high-impact professionals and helping women navigate their careers inspires her every day.
Fairygodboss of the Week — Julie Finn
Chief Mentor, the Working Mother's Mentor
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I started my career doing corporate strategy at the Walt Disney Company. I enjoy solving complex problems, understanding how people make decisions, and leveraging data to inform strategies. I have had additional strategy roles in my career, including consulting with the Boston Consulting Group and thought leadership for Deloitte. My passion has always been helping people to improve their lives, on a number of levels. That passion led me to spend a decade working as a coach to professionals making career and life transitions and also as a strategist at the international development agency, Oxfam Great Britain. Now, I am the Chief Mentor at the Working Mother’s Mentor. The Working Mother’s Mentor is on a mission to inspire, support, and empower professional women. We do this in three ways:
1. The Working Mother’s Mentor podcast, available on iTunes as well as our website, www.theworkingmothersmentor.com/podcasts, delivers inspiration, actionable strategies, and concrete advice on leading a productive, balanced life. Through candid interviews with executives, entrepreneurs, and other leaders, we discover their secrets to forging their path and juggling their successful professional and family lives.
2. We provide high-impact, strategic life coaching, mentoring, and virtual courses for professional women. We have a number of programs specifically designed to: help women navigate personal and career pivots, have a successful return to work after maternity leave, or to craft a life they love on their own terms.
3. We offer keynote speaking, training, and facilitation for companies and organizations. Our focus includes empowering female leaders, making corporate cultures great for working parents, and fostering diversity and inclusion.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I feel quite fortunate that I have been able to achieve many of the things that I dreamed about as a child growing up in South Carolina. Living overseas, studying and working in other cultures, and learning from and about people from different backgrounds have always been very important to me. One accomplishment that I am most proud of is attending the University of Oxford as a Rotary Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar, and also working in Kuala Lumpur as a Luce Scholar.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
Thanksgiving 2016, I shared my vision for the Working Mother’s Mentor and my passion for empowering professional women with my only sibling, my older brother David. He encouraged me to “not let anyone stand in my way and to keep going.” He was very supportive of my endeavor, as he had been of all my previous ones. Twelve days later he was dead of an intestinal illness he did not know he had.
Supporting my three children through the death of their dear Uncle David, whom they saw on a near weekly basis, and then burying him just before Christmas, was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. His final words to me feed my resolve to support women in creating a work and family life they love. Life is short and can be fickle. Each day matters and we all deserve to be happy and fulfilled. When the days are long, the kids are rowdy, and the project list for the Working Mother’s Mentor seems unending, I tell myself, “to David,” and I keep going.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
Stacy Blackman from Stacy Blackman Consulting. Stacy, to me, is a great example of a working mom who has created a work and family life on her own terms. After having her second child, she decided that corporate life was no longer a great fit for her and started serving clients as a consultant. As founder and CEO of Stacy Blackman Consulting, Stacy has grown a thriving business, which landed her on the cover of Fortune magazine. Her company not only serves her clients at the highest level, but also the many professionals who work with her. Stacy taught me about: working hard, without face time; caring about client needs over profits; and building a business that allows one to be location-independent. Stacy is married with three kids and at any time may be anywhere in the world, still running her business.
What do you do when you're not working?
When not working, I love to spend time with my husband, our three kids, and our puppy.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
Oprah, but probably not because of the reasons you may think. I’ve always been fascinated by successful people’s origin stories and how they overcome challenges and setbacks during their journey. Oprah to me is a beacon, a shining example of what’s possible through being true to yourself, hard work, and some good fortune here and there. In the words of Langston Hughes, “Life for her ain’t been no crystal stair,” but man oh man has she overcome more than most, and with such grace, dignity, and determination.
What is your karaoke song?
The last time I did karaoke I believe we sang Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Let’s just say that you should not sing a Whitney song unless you can actually sing. But if I were forced to get on stage and sing, I would probably sing the REM song one of the quotes above came from, “I Believe.”
What is your favorite movie?
If you asked me this question 20 years ago, I would have said Pretty in Pink, as I loved John Hughes movies and that film's soundtrack. Now, I would say I love The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and The Wiz…and have made my kids watch them repeatedly, hoping they will develop an appreciation for the movies and the music.
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
I generally prefer experiences over things. If I won the lottery, I would probably buy a cottage in the woods or near the sea. I love being out in nature and, while I appreciate all the great things about living in a city, I also crave quiet, peace and tranquility. I would also be able to donate to the charities I support on a larger scale.
Why do you love where you work?
I love working for the Working Mother’s Mentor because I figured out long ago that I do my best work when I am passionate about the impact and committed to the long-term vision of an organization. I love that I spend my time thinking about and developing programs and resources to support and empower women. I love hosting The Working Mother’s Mentor podcast and speaking with inspiring, high-impact women who share their triumphs and challenges with me and our listeners. I love that I get to serve and support professional women who want to have great careers, be leaders in their field, and also be present and engaged parents.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.