Emily Zilic

Children: 1

Industry: Finance & Nutrition

How would you best describe yourself?

Professionally, I am a highly motivated and individual who has a passion for finance, health, wellbeing, and people leadership. I demonstrate the highest level of integrity and understand the importance of delivering an exceptional client experience. I pride myself on my dynamic nature and innovative ability and consistently persevere to further develop my skills.

I am honest, influential, and have a positive attitude.

I am also not ashamed to admit that I can be stubborn and yes, love a debate!

How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?

I am a specialist within my field and my commitment to the sector personally and professionally was recognised via the nomination and awarding of the 2013 Westpac Alfred Davidson Award and 2014 AB&F Dun and Bradstreet Young Professional Banker Of The Year Finalist, 2017 Garma Leadership Team Member, 2017 Westpac Employee of the year and Westpac Community Board Member. I had spent over a decade building a recogniseable brand and had great difficulty "handing over the reins" to a colleague as I commenced maternity leave. My career had been an absolute priority in life and I had every intent to return to my role as soon as possible.

Once Frankie was born, it wasn't long before I realised that I wanted to spend every moment of every day with her. I surprised myself at how obsessed I became with her. I had never considered myself to be overly affectionate. And I certainly never allowed myself the opportunity to just sit still. But I adore Frankie and I have learned the art of being present and "in the moment" with her.

I extended my maternity leave twice. I started my maternity leave as a career woman who was adamant about returning to work as soon as possible and as I approached the end of my extended maternity leave, I recognised that I had a new career that I was proud of and one that was more important than any other one I had undertaken and mastered previously - motherhood.

What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?

Meg Jay presents a brilliant Ted Talk "Why 30 is not the new 20" and there is many aspects of her talk that I can relate to. Specifically, I think many women do not pay enough attention to their overall health and wellbeing and as many of us delay having children until well into our 30's and 40's, we must be realistic and acknowledge that fertility peaks for females at around the age of 28 and rapidly declines after then.

I have been an athlete my entire life. I have worked with brilliant coaches and nutritionists. I was always compliant with my training and diet, my periods were regular and I very rarely felt unwell. I assumed that when the time would come to start trying for a family that we would have no issues conceiving. Our fertility journey was one filled with many challenges, sadness, and tears.

My entire adult life I have entrusted professionals within their respective fields to provide me with the most specialised support and guidance. I have a brilliant accountant for tax advice. Solicitor for legal matters. A financial planner for future-proofing. And yet, it wasn't until I was referred to a fertility specialist at the age of 33 that I had taken my reproductive health seriously.

I do believe all women owe it to their future selves to be more diligent with matters relating to health and wellbeing and in particular, reproductive health.

What has been your biggest challenge in motherhood to date? How have you overcome this?

I am an absolute perfectionist and I am not ashamed to admit that I initially struggled with the limited time I had to complete the daily tasks I was once able to complete with ease. Prior to Frankie, my house was always clean, meals always prepared, study completed, a daily training session/workout squeezed into a ten to twelve hour working day. The demands on a new mother, the expectations, the sleep deprivation, feeding and even breastfeeding issues strip her of any free time. I recognised I wasn't coping and reached out to a psychologist to talk through how I was feeling. I knew I needed to be kinder to myself, I knew I had to ask for help. And I knew that tasks that were once a priority were no longer a priority (or at least for now). Her unbiased support and guidance greatly assisted me in implementing some very necessary changes, the most important being the need to speak up and ask for help.

What are your strategies to manage the juggle of career and family?

Without question, the greatest investment I made since Frankie`s birth was hiring a brilliant private sleep consultant, Richelle Franklin from Sleep Right Tonight. Sleep training Frankie at 4 months (she is 20 months old now) has allowed me to effectively plan my day. Due to her consistent sleep schedule and overnight sleep, I am able to maximize the time that she is napping and sleeping.

My day starts early, around 5 am. This gives me two hours before Frankie wakes up to complete any household tasks I wasn't able to complete the night before and attend to any unanswered emails. I shower, get changed, have breakfast, and that very important first cup of coffee.

Upon returning to work, I requested and had approved a compressed hours arrangement. Acknowledging the number of hours worked in addition to my contracted hours, I work full time hours over four days and dedicate one weekday off to spend with Frankie. On this day, I have made a conscious effort to turn my laptop and phone off. We are so accessible in this day and age and it's tempting to just "check one more email" or "make one more call". When I am at work I am completely dedicated to my clients and the task at hand. But on my day off, my "Frankie Day", I have asked clients and colleagues to respect my time with my family.

I have recently hired a cleaner and enrolled Frankie into childcare two days per week. During the weeks that I know I will be time-poor to prepare the family meals, I order fresh ready-made meals from The Dinner Ladies or You Foodz.

What do you do for self-care?

Personally, I do believe that Me Time equals self-care. I want my daughter to recognise that it's ok to want to spend some time alone and on yourself. I want her to know that I value myself as much as a value looking after her,

I know when I haven't had enough Me Time, I start to resent my partner. I feel overwhelmed and I feel isolated.

Motherhood can make you forget about yourself. Life is hectic and at times chaotic. More and more women are trying to juggle a career, a family, relationships, friendships, a household, and extra-curricular activities.

Self-care these days is very different compared to what it was prior to motherhood and involves a personal training session with a friend, listening to a podcast, getting my hair done, a facial, learning new recipes or some study.