Louise Cummins

Marketing and Digital Director, H&R Block

Roles in life and work:

I am the Marketing and Digital Director at H&R Block, a Non Executive Director at Sydney Drug Education & Counselling Centre, a children’s book author and Mum to seven year old Lachlan.

What are you juggling right now in your life? 
Besides the usual work and mum juggle, my passion project is my recently launched children’s book – A Different Kind of Brilliant, which is now being written into an animated film for teens.

There is another project I’m really proud of.  About 18 months ago I caught an Uber. My driver was such an inspiring man who was also an asylum seeker from Syria. He was so well qualified in finance but felt there was no opportunity for him to really use his skills in Australia. This experience led me to find out how at H&R Block we could tap into this skilled group of immigrants and I was excited to be introduced to Settlement Services International as part of TEDx partnership which helped put this idea into action.

Fast forward to my lunch last week with Saman, a CPA Qualified Accountant who is an asylum seeker from Iraq, who was fleeing given the danger posed from him being Christian. He’s one of our first recruits at H&R Block through this SSI partnership. Saman epitomises an ideal employee – he is passionate, ethical, tenacious, and hardworking and a real role model for his family and community.

It was so cool to see how a conversation in an Uber and a thought bubble turned into a cool program that helped Saman and hopefully a lot more to come.

I have come to realise your career doesn’t have to be your passion. You can have a not for profit interest, write a book or drive projects that help define the kind of person you are or want to be. Both of these projects have surprised me as I didn’t really have the end in sight when I started but I have learnt loads and been overwhelmed with the impact they have both had. 

How did you come to be a children’s book author?

I could see Lachlan was different around 18 months – he was in his own world and always running around. I felt judged by people when he was all over the place as though it was poor parenting. When the diagnosis came through of autism I just wanted to crawl into a hole with Lachlan and hide from the world.

After investing a lot of money over the next 3 years on early intervention therapy, we started seeing a lot of progress but I could see he was getting exhausted by therapy. After a challenging weekend of therapy and intervention we were driving home and Lachlan played the song ‘True Colors’ from Trolls on his iPad and for the first time he sang! As he sung I felt he was asking me to see his ‘true colors’. I remember this moment so vividly of tears rolling down my face. I realised then the person who needed to change the most wasn’t Lachlan, it was me.

Since that time I’ve truly embraced Lachlan’s differences and wanted to write a book to help him (and me) on this journey of acceptance.

This book is dedicated to inspiring people with autism who have changed the world for the better and to teach kids that being different can be brilliant. In fact different people are the ones that change the world!

How do you value your time?

Free time is so finite these days – it’s has so much value to everyone. The more you do, the more you can do is my ethos. You know what they say – if you want a job done, give it to a busy person. 

How do you manage your time effectively?

I do personal and professional quarterly plans and then put into bite sized pieces and put in my diary. For me allowing time each quarter to reflect on learnings from last quarter and what I wanted to achieve the following quarter has been really important. I then put time to achieve these goals, both work and personal into my diary.

On Friday afternoons I map out the following week and on Sunday night I get my head into the week coming.

I decide in advance how much time I can allocate to the areas of my life to ensure I am giving ample time to all the things that are important to me. 

How do you separate work and personal time

In my role I have flexibility for family when it’s needed but the downside is that I make up for it after hours. Largely I compartmentalise areas of my life. It sounds dorky, but I feel more at ease when I know I have time blocked out to do some thinking with no emails. I have time blocked for my family, my work, passions, mental and physical health. I even go as far as colour coding them in my Outlook.

What does your support network look like?

I’m lucky to have an amazing Mum and also a fantastic network for family and friends.

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

Over the years I worked out my inner voice is unfortunately naturally sceptical and negative so I need to work on this each day. I try and live by The Story of the Two Wolves. If you haven’t heard it before, it goes like this. 

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I try to feed the good wolf daily. 

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

I have recently reflected on what I have learnt about myself and my life. I was asked to speak at an event about Inspiration. I thought I didn’t stack up compared to the amazing line up of presentations, but after sharing my story I was given such positive feedback that I realised what made me stand out what being authentic. My advice is don’t waste time being something you are not – be your authentic self and have an authentic voice. 

A Different Kind of Brilliant – Celebrating people who are different enough to change the world for the better

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