For the love of numbers and beer
Meet Jo, qualified accountant, successful business director and self-proclaimed numbers geek and craft beer addict.
Jo is a can-do kind of gal who runs a highly successful and innovative book keeping firm by day and by night dabbles in craft beer committee duties and festival directing.
After completing her accounting degree in Melbourne, Jo made the move to Hamilton Island with the aim of “not getting a real job”.
“I ended up with a real job running the office for a private buggy repairer,” Jo laughs. Buggies being the mode of transport on Hamilton Island.
Jo stayed for two years, meeting great people and having a little fun along the way. But it was her desire to buy a house that saw her return to Victoria and the familiar childhood location of Bendigo.
Jo knew she wanted to work in finance when on her return to Bendigo, but she also knew a typical accounting role wasn’t the right fit for her. So after a banking gig, followed by sub-contracting to a book keeping firm, she ended up taking on a business and building it into the success it is today.
CloudBooks, as the name suggests, is a cloud-based book keeping firm servicing clients in Bendigo and across Victoria.
“We specialise in providing cloud-based solutions. We mainly use a program called Xero, accessible via an internet browser – so phone, tablet and computer. I did this for the flexibility,” Jo explains.
She had the foresight when taking over the business to head in this direction.
“It was still in the early days of Xero, which has really taken off and is gaining a lot of market share,” she said.
Three years on and CloudBooks is going from strength to strength. The home-based business has grown from 10 clients to 55 and during this time Jo has taken on two staff members.
“It was getting too much for me to handle,” she said.
Even with the addition of two employees, the industry is in awe of what Jo is achieving in the business.
“When I undertake business development training people comment ‘Wow that’s your turnover with that many staff’. They don’t know how we do it,” she said.
Jo puts this down to the efficiencies cloud based software and add-on “apps” provide.
CloudBooks clients are from all sorts of industries, including hospitality, education, trade, retail and real-estate.
“It’s great, it’s nice to give control back to the owners, so they know how their business is truly going. We catch up with clients and go through their books, their monthly reporting and show them what is improved, what needs work. It’s about providing that gap between themselves and their accountant, who they may only see once per year,” she explains.
Jo’s other passion is a year-round one, but it’s from March to August that her love for craft beer really ramps up.
Jo is a committee member of Bendigo Beer, a small but passionate group of locals who believe in better beer.
“I’m the treasurer, which makes sense – a woman who likes beer and knows numbers,” Jo laughs.
Bendigo Beer started with two guys doing good things to promote locally-made craft beer. It was in February 2011 that they became an incorporated not-for-profit.
“That’s when I joined as the first female committee member,” Jo recalls.
She is the longest standing female committee member.
“We currently have another female on the committee and we’ve had one other previously,” she said.
When asked what it’s like to be a female in an area perceived to be male-dominated, it’s not a concern for Jo.
“I don’t really notice it, there is no bounce back. The industry is really supportive of women, there are lots of amazing female brewers, reps and craft beer bar staff out there,” she said.
The most common thing Jo hears is “girls don’t like beer” but this does not phase her in the slightest.
“I don’t take it personally because I do like beer,” Jo laughs.
March to August is like having a part time job on the side, as she takes on the role of festival co-director for Bendigo On The Hop, Australia’s best winter beer festival, which is held annually in August.
“It’s a lot of work but lots of fun and rewarding. All committee members pitch in and take care of different elements they specialise in – volunteer coordination, council and planning, website etc.,” she explains.
Interestingly the festival has seen more women than men attend across all three years and Jo enjoys teaching women a little bit about beer.
“There is a misconception about what beer is – tasteless lagers that are over produced. Whereas there are so many flavours of beer now; if you don’t like one there is likely one that you will like. It’s about asking what they do and don’t like. If you like chocolate and coffee, there are many dark beers that are tasty or if you’re into spicy foods for example you might like an IPA,” Jo explains.
So for women out there thinking about starting a business or getting involved in a committee, Jo’s advice is go for it.
“If it’s something you’re passionate about, there are so many supportive and talented women in Bendigo. Connect with others for support and advice,” she said.
Contributor Alicia O’Brien
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