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An account of business and family life balance

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An account of business and family life balance

Take an in-depth look behind the scenes of an award-winning businesswoman’s outstanding life. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

Renee Cooper’s successful business did not grow overnight. It grew from wanting to create more flexibility in her work/life balance as she navigated some challenges.

Everyone has a story to tell, and Renee’s is one worth telling.

Finishing school with a dream to be accepted into the Australian Navy, she eventually reset her course and found herself in accounting.

Now, she has been crowned the 2023 Outstanding Business Woman of the Year at the recent Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Awards.

Renee began InDepth Business Advisory & Taxation in 2018, almost 20 years after beginning her career at a firm in Nambour. At that time, the year 2000, Renee was undertaking her accounting degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Prior to that, she was studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy in politics and economics, which unfortunately was not a positive experience for the young Navy hopeful.

Based on the Sunshine Coast, Renee was hoping to pursue a degree in law, but with UniSC still it its early years and not offering law, she decided on accounting.

“I thought accounting is probably the closest thing and I literally fell into it,” Renee tells My Weekly Preview.

“I never thought about being an accountant but when I was at ADFA, I was doing politics and economics.

“I always enjoyed economics and as much as people think accounting is about numbers, I find it is more about economics and law. I do love it.”

She eventually went into practice as a director of a firm in Maroochydore in 2009, where she remained until 2018.

Her catalyst for branching out on her own was an immense feeling of guilt about trying to juggle her career and being there for her family.

Renee says that at the time, her son, who lives with ASD, ADHD and Tourette’s, was having significant difficulties at school. He began a modified school program, where he attended three hours a day, four days a week.

“At the time, my mum was also diagnosed with a terminal disease,” Renee shares.

“I was getting a lot of guilt at work with my personal life, so I decided to carve off onto my own.

“We worked in the Hive from (the) Kon-Tiki (building), as I wasn’t there very much because of my mum and my son.”

Sadly, Renee’s mother died in 2019, and eventually a change of schools made a difference to her son’s life. That meant Renee was in a position to focus on growing her business, which now has eight staff.

Her own experience has taught Renee that running a business means catering to the needs of her staff as well.

“Because I know how much flexibility I need with what goes on in my life, I’m very conscious that people who work for me have the same needs,” she says.

“If they have a kid’s assembly or a kid’s sports day, then they can go and not have any issues.

“They can have the day off and we make it work. It’s very give and take.

“When my Mum was in hospital down in Melbourne, I was travelling a lot and my team completely had my back.

“I couldn’t have done that without them.”

Renee still prioritises her family life, spending time with her husband and two children, who all love the outdoors and camping.

“We have a tight little family unit and we love to do a lot together,” she says.

“When it’s just my husband or I, we are very much foodies. So, we love going down to Brisbane. Or recently, we were in Sydney and went out to the Hunter. We love good food and good wine.

“With the kids, we are all about experiences. We do a lot together.”

Renee hopes to continue growing the advisory side of her business and is looking at completing a company director course next year.

“We like doing things well so I don’t want to grow beyond that,” she says.

“It’s about managing where we are. My husband says if I’m not operating at 150 per cent, I’m bored.”

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