We caught up with the International business woman, writer and stand up comedian to find out how she does it all.
We all have the same 24 hours as Julia Streets, but it’s amazing what she fits into one day. Catch her on email or phone and she’ll be between client business meetings in the UK, Europe or the US or between calls with her team. Otherwise you’re likely to find her on-stage telling jokes as an after dinner speaker, MC’ing award ceremonies, writing her column or helping the charity, Children in Crisis.
A self-professed ‘Kentish lass’ Julia may well be based in London, but her family and friends regularly draw Julia back to the County. Avid listeners of BBC Radio Kent drivetime show will recognise her as a regular guest on ‘The Conversation’ with Dominic King. On meeting Julia, you’re instantly struck by her passion, drive and focus, but quick to crack a joke, she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
As an entrepreneur, Julia founded Streets Consulting, her financial services business development, marketing and communications consultancy in 2007, when she was approached with a high profile freelance project. Word spread quickly and work came flooding in. She quickly realised she had to scale up to meet the demand. And nothing’s changed. So strong is her firm’s reputation that every commission still results from a direct referral from a contact.
“When I started the business we were deep in the global economic crisis, I knew I had to do something different”, explains Streets. “From challenging times, opportunities always present themselves and many new start-up businesses have developed new financial products, such as digital apps or software products. They look to us to help them grow but have limited budgets.”
Contrary to convention, Julia set up a virtual business model where everyone works from home. “We could keep costs down and ensure that client fees were spent on talented people with lots of experience, rather than absorbed by costly overheads.”
It’s no surprise that many of her team are parents. “Why shouldn’t parents be able to take their children to school and work on exciting projects during the day where they can use the skills they’ve developed over the years?” Streets is keen to point out that the model’s appeal extends further. “We live in a ‘gig’ economy where people have multiple interests and the model works well for them. The main thing is that every consultant is truly committed to delivering excellent work for our clients”.
Today Streets Consulting has consultants in London, Prague, New York and Sydney. “Having consultants in multiple locations means we can turn work around really efficiently.” Fortunately, Julia’s clear love of travel means she’s often on a plane. “Financial services is a truly international sector and it’s important to meet and spend time with clients and nurture relationships.”
Julia Streets is a straight-talker with no time for corporate jargon. In 2012, her book, ‘The Lingua Franca of the Corporate Banker’ was published, lampooning the excessive use of corporate jargon. “Recently I had to stop a meeting because someone said, ‘we have to kill the crocodile closest to the canoe’. I just had to point out that we were in an office block in Canary Wharf.” On the back of the book she was approached by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants to write a dry-witted ‘Watercooler’ column in their global monthly journal observing idiosyncratic corporate behaviour.
Beyond the day job, Julia proudly serves as a Trustee for Children in Crisis, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in post-conflict countries, by delivering a sustainable approach to education.
Far from being a RHINO Trustee (Really Here in Name Only); Julia actively supports the growth and development of the charity. In 2013, she selffunded a trip to Sierra Leone, to see the programme work for herself. “I was really blown away. Offering education for children, teacher training, adult literacy, farming and marketing skills, enterprise education; even financial management, has a truly huge impact on communities, empowering them towards achieving a brighter future.” The charity works in some of the hardest to reach places in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
Julia champions the work of Children in Crisis whenever she can and has realised the potential for bringing together all the aspects of her life to help raise vital funds. Every year to celebrate the anniversary, Streets Consulting hosts a City comedy event attracting sponsorship, every penny going to the charity.
Comedian and after dinner speaker
The comedy career began in 2006, when Julia had a moment of epiphany. “For years, too many people to ignore had said I should try stand up. I knew if I didn’t give it a go I would always regret it, and so I found a niche: I believe I’m the only comedian who enjoys being in an office.” It clearly works. Not only does she command the attention of her audience, she speaks their language, and she is regularly called upon to host corporate events, conferences and awards ceremonies, livening up City events from private to gala black tie dinners. She’s even been drawn into auctioneering.
Not surprisingly, Julia has received a number of accolades. City publication Brummell Magazine named her one of their 30 Inspirational Women on Boards and 30 Inspirational Women Entrepreneurs and she is listed as one of the leading women in FinTech (financial technology) year after year. “I’m always deeply flattered”, Streets explains, “not least because I never even know that I’ve been nominated.”
So what can we learn from Julia Streets? Work hard, clearly. Listen to your customers, believe in your teams, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to take risks. Ignore your ego, and always allow room for laughter and balance. When asked about the risk of burn-out Streets insists, “I do rest and take time out. In fact I take fitness and well-being very seriously. Oh, and by the way, don’t be fooled by the love of comedy,” she adds, “I’m deadly serious about business.”