Welcome! Thanks for joining us. We know first-hand that building your dream impact career isn’t straight forward. While you may have been told to climb some kind of career ladder, you’re probably feeling more like you’re navigating an open sea or following a zig zagging path. To help you find your sea legs, we’ve gone behind the scenes with some incredible career zig zaggers and ocean navigators to discover ‘How They Did It'.
These are the inside stories of how impact happens, from people you may not know but that are doing some pretty great stuff. They’re stories not just about what they did, but how they did it, so you can get some practical inspo to help build your own impact.
Please meet the effervescent Rachel Cole, who is an investment advisor in wealth creation AS WELL as being a performer in national musical theatre shows.
Before we start, what was your first ever job?
Working at the Sydney Olympic Games selling hot dogs at the Hockey stadium. I was only just 15 and ate more hot dogs than I sold, that liquid cheese was heaven!
Can you describe what your current role encompasses day-to-day?
I have two jobs: Acting & Property Investment Advising.
Before COVID-19, I was working on Billy Elliot in Melbourne – my role was to understudy the female lead, Mrs Wilkinson. We perform the show 8 times a week, as well as rehearse during the day to ensure the understudies are ready. Should someone be sick, injured or on leave, you can go on to perform their role at a moments notice, without the audience noticing or the integrity of the show suffering!
My other current full-time role is as a Property Investment Advisor and Cashflow Analyst. Day to day, I meet with clients who are keen to set themselves up financially and advise them on their investments.
We determine their current financial position, where they want to end up, and what they have to do to get there using complex financial models. It’s very important to ensure your financials are in order, no matter how young you are. It is the one thing you will never regret doing early!
What drives and motivates you?
Being rich and skinny? Haha no – honestly, lots of things! I would say primarily the desire to have fun, be good at and love what I do. The fact that it’s a good challenge, helping people sort out their money or providing enjoyment through the theatre only compounds the joy.
What did you study, and when you set out to do this, what did you imagine your career would look like? Did you ever imagine it would be this?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a straightforward answer. Initially, I went to Sydney University because the boy I liked went there, and I had no idea what I wanted to study. Sound logic!!
The Bachelor of Liberal Studies was really broad, and required an Arts major, a Science major, a language and mathematics – so I majored in Psychology and figured I’d work the rest out along the way. My grad job was as a Psych Research Assistant on Clinical Dementia trials. I never really planned it, I kind of fell into it… Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the dream.
Once I worked out what the dream was – theatre, I worked out what I had to do to get there. I auditioned for all the big schools, NIDA, WAAPA & VCA – and I didn’t get into any of them! Devastated, but determined, I studied locally instead, an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts at Ed5 International. The training was top notch and I got everything I needed.
Following on, I worked in the theatre industry for about 8 years – Wicked, Matilda, Evita, Muriel's Wedding, Billy Elliot to name a few, when I started buying and renovating houses on the side whilst I toured. Falling in love with the property industry, I took on some part-time work alongside theatre and later studied to become a Qualified Property Investment Advisor. Currently, I’m studying a Masters of Economics to broaden my credentials.
Your career isn’t necessarily a ladder that you’ll always be able to see the top of and know what the next rung is you should reach for. A career in the arts is much more like a roller coaster – high highs, and low lows, and not necessarily always heading north. My career in finance functions to create stability so that when the theatre floor drops away beneath me, I have something to hold onto.
So no, my career wasn’t what I imagined – but I think I like this better.
Come join the conversation with us on Instagram!
We love a zig zagger! Tell us about an experience or job you have had that has taught you skills you use in your job today.
Lots of performers claim they have no other skills. Whereas taking the stage under the lights to 2000 people per night, 8 times a week and singing for your supper means you’re likely to be confident, good in front of people, open and a good communicator.
Those skills are not easy to teach and are highly valued in professional organizations. Confidence and communication are HUGE in the corporate space.
I regularly get to run free financial literacy or tax seminars for those in the arts, tongue in cheek called, “Get Rich with Rach”, where we discuss basic tenets of finances, home loans, budgets, living within your means, how to save, how Super works and all those things you’re meant to know but nobody ever teaches you.
There is a lot of value in making complex things simple. If I can make money accessible, interesting and encourage people to take an active interest in their finances, I’ve done a good thing.
How has community played a role in you being able to take action on the big issues or challenges that you’re passionate about?
Community is massive in the arts. It’s a small world where everyone knows everyone. The community is thirsty for knowledge and improvement and if I publicize a seminar on one of the entertainment Facebook groups, over 1000 people will watch it, just in the Australian arts space.
Financers are fascinating, it is just that most people talking about them aren’t good communicators. If you know your subject matter and speak about it with passion, the community will back you.
Looking back, what has had the greatest impact in helping you build your professional networks?
The theatre community can be hard to break into. Theatrical agents are the best people to get you in front of the right people – casting and directors, but once you’re in that room, you have to deliver.
In the property world, I simply emailed people who I was interested in working for and kept emailing until I got a meeting! Again, once you get the meeting, you have to deliver. You don’t get any of the opportunities you don’t ask for. I have offered to work for free for the right people and do gigs I didn’t want to do to meet the right people to leapfrog to the job I did want.
Connections are important; and if you don’t have the ones you want, source new ones.
Where do you turn to for inspiration and motivation?
It’s your job in the theatre to find the same amount of motivation and truth on show 824 (yes we did that many in Matilda), as you did on opening night. An audience member 2 years in, might have saved up for months to come and see your show and you owe it to them, your colleagues and your craft to deliver as magical a story as you did on night one. That’s not easy – sometimes you’re exhausted, injured or sick and there are no understudies left - BUT you have to pull it out. The motivation is both intrinsic and extrinsic.
When your inspiration fails you, you only have one choice – rest on your discipline, it will see you through until a sunnier day.
And finally, if people want to follow you and your work, where can they find you?