Leonie Walsh is a big deal in the Australian science world and a self-confessed frugal woman.
In this Success Story, Leonie shares how she took a huge career risk to remain true to personal priorities and why a frugal approach to finances gives her freedom to take on roles for love, not money.
Leonie Walsh was fascinated by anything scientific as a kid.
Growing up in a small rural town she chopped wood with her dad, hung out at truck depots and was fascinated by chemistry and mathematics.
She attended a small technical college in her hometown of Mildura and went on to study Applied Science at Swinburne University.
Undeterred by the fact it was an unusual choice for a woman at the time, Leonie embarked on a career in science.
She was propelled into the male dominated industry spending the first 20 years of her impressive career with Dow Chemical Company where she rose to Director, Global Product Delivery.
While she loved her job, and spent time working in the United States and Asia, the distance from her family, still living in Mildura, began to weigh on her.
Choosing to prioritise her life outside of work, Leonie made the difficult decision to leave Dow.
Her colleagues had a hard time understanding why Leonie would give up a successful career in the US and go back to Australia to nothing.
“It was a huge risk, but at times you have to look at the environment that makes you happy and content and what your priorities are as a person and then trust that the other side of it will eventually grow to fit that.”
She and her husband returned to Australia where she plunged into a challenging time of job uncertainty.
When financial priorities are the driving force behind taking a job, it’s easy to end up in an unfulfilling role just to pay the bills.
Leonie’s experience is a shining example that sound money management gives freedom of choice.
Her frugal approach to finances gave her breathing room to move on from roles she was no longer fulfilled by, without the additional stress of money.
“I’m a very frugal person, I grew up in a working-class background, and have a healthy respect for my money and other people’s money”.
Her absolute love of learning has played a major role in her impressive career but her best investment has been spending time building her support network, with a focus on friendship first.
In the podcast, Leonie talks about what we can do to equip kids with the skills they need for future workforce, highlights of her 3 years as Victoria’s lead scientist and her favourite research tool to stay on top of industry trends.