Sarah-Jane Dunford

Founder of Riskology, a safety consultancy that helps organisations develop, implement and improve safety systems

Roles in life and work:

Sarah Jane (SJ) is the founder of Riskology, a safety consultancy that helps organisations develop, implement and improve safety systems. SJ is also an advocate for safety innovation, founding the Hunter Safety Awards, the NSW Regional Safety Conference and the Safety Academy of Australia. She is Deputy Chair of the Women in Safety and Health Safety Institute of Australia Committee and currently completing her third masters degree.

Outside Safety, SJ is a passionate Bison Farmer and photorealism artist. SJ says her husband being supportive at home allows her to be more than a full-time business woman.

What are you juggling right now in your life?

I was unable to have children and had to refine a role for myself, so I have made a conscious choice to keep busy with many complicated projects. I have found a happy place with a farm of unusual animals and it’s a talking point while others talk about their children.

We have recently had two bison calves, so we are busy fencing to extend the paddocks. We are also building our dream home which is well overdue for completion so in the meantime we are living and working in a shed with no shower or electricity. The shower currently is under a garden hose in the paddock which is challenging when I need to head into Sydney CBD to present to boards and be well presented.

Another big juggle at the moment is a humungous 23,000 plant garden project we’ve taken on at the farm as part of the ABC Dream Gardens show, we have a tight deadline to finish by end of March so we have a busy few weekends ahead.

With the Hunter Safety Awards in mid-March and NSW Safety Expo upcoming a lot of my time is taken up finding sponsors and working with my marketing team.

My friends often tell me they don’t know anyone with so many things on at once, but I love the distractions and can see the path to achieving our goals. People I meet in my job cannot picture me kicking my heels off after work and getting on a dirt bike; but I love putting on my boots and being a farm girl, it’s a great way to de stress. But I also love being the polar opposite and putting on a beautiful pair of shoes, nice nails and dressing up for work.

How do you value your time?

I am valuing time more as I age. I just turned 40 and my mindset has changed. Girls were raised to be polite and well-mannered and I said yes to everything I didn’t disappoint, I never wanted to be rude which resulted in me being stretched too much. But I have found my voice now, and if I don’t think its valuable to do something, I’ll prioritise the important things as my time is too precious.

I am often asked to donate artworks for charity, and I had to learn to say no as I found myself doing paintings on the floors of hotel rooms when away for work and it became a chore, so I now plan out my donations of artwork every year and I’ve found my voice to say no.

How do you manage your time effectively?

There is a lot of room for improvement – I am doing something every waking minute. I always try to have time at home with my husband doing something we enjoy.

I work long hours, but I need something to destress at the end of each day. If its still light when I get home, I get out of my corporate gear and ride around the paddock to check out the herd and come down from my day.

How do you separate work and personal time?

A lot of my safety business is on laptop, so I close it and turn off my phone for a day. It’s necessary to unplug living in a shed in the same room as sleep and cook. When I travel, I work late in the night, so I can save my weekends. a shed in the same room as sleep and cook. When I travel, I work late in the night, so I can save my weekends.

What does your support network look like?

My husband is 90% of my support network plus my parents and a great team. It took me while to find my tribe, but I have learnt to leave things to the experts in their field.

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?

I talk to myself a lot in the car as I drive for long hours. I try to always be positive but once a year I lose my mojo. I ask myself “why am I working so hard” then remind myself I love what I do, keep going as well as reflect on how far I have come. I look at the crazy big garden that we transformed from just a cow paddock through sheer hard work and tell myself to just keep going.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?

After donating 90% of my clothes, I have started really loving the clothes I wear. I am trying to get down to 10 key pieces. When buying I look for something that I really really love. I love that jewellery and shoes can show your personality and how you are feeling.

Sunday I will spend some time planning what I will wear for the week and packing so I don’t have to think about it first thing Monday morning in a panic. I also try and buy non-iron clothes as I need to go down the paddock and put generator on to power the iron.

In our new home, we have built my dream wardrobe, but I won’t go back to having a full wardrobe, but I will buy more shoes.

I have found over the past few years as I’ve matured that I’ve found my voice, I stand up for myself now and what’s important to me and I also put more thought into what I wear, if I’m wearing something nice I feel good all day.

To find out more about SJ’s business, farm and art, click here

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