Connected Woman of the Week: With a flair for marketing and an ability to mentor, Nickie Race-Jones used her love of languages to develop LCF Fun Languages, rapidly becoming the leading provider of language solutions to schools and children throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Who is she?
Nickie Race-Jones is a successful businesswoman, educator and mother of two who has turned a passion for languages into a fulfilling and inspiring career. Originally from the UK, she speaks four languages fluently and now owns and operates LCF Fun Languages in Australia and New Zealand.
Race-Jones oversees the growing business on both sides of the Tasman while raising a family and acting as a business mentor and advocate for early childhood language learning.
What does her current role entail?
As Director of LCF Fun Languages, Jones takes a hands-on approach to the daily management of her team on both sides of the Tasman.
The team consists of 36 franchisees and Race-Jones increasingly sees her role as one of motivating and inspiring.
“Most of my franchisees are women, some of whom are relatively new to business and it is up to me and our team to provide ongoing support, business mentoring and teacher training,” she said.
With franchisees in both Australia and New Zealand, Race-Jones divides her time between Sydney and Auckland, which has made her an expert traveller and a master of time management. She says she is fortunate to have the best of both worlds, both career and family, without compromising either.
What technology does she use in her working life?
Race-Jones said she often jokes about having her head in the clouds.
“I do a lot of work when travelling and none of this would be possible without cloud-based and increasingly integrated systems!” she said.
LCF Fun Languages has a highly optimised website and an online enrolment system for parents to register their children in our classes, and Race-Jones regularly uses Skype for interviews and team reviews.
She uses Basecamp to manage projects, Dropbox for file sharing, and is continually learning and improving in areas like social media, and integrated solutions.
“It is only when you stop to look back that you realise how far you have come. I used to get slightly terrified by new technology. Now I just get excited by the possibilities that it will create for me,” she said.
What career-based achievement is she most proud of?
A great believer in creating one’s own reality, Race-Jones said she literally “designed” her future after reaching a crossroads.
“I did not know what I was going to do but I knew it had to be an international role where I could combine my passion for languages, my people skills and my love of business,” she added.
In 2010 Race-Jones was nominated for Australia’s prestigious Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award. This year she is a finalist in the 2011 Bio-Oil Ausmumpreneur of the Year Awards which is being announced this weekend in Sydney.
What advice does she have for women in the workforce?
Working as a successful business woman whilst raising a family always presents challenges.
“Be clear on what your goals and vision are before you start your business and most importantly, what your exit strategy is,” she said.
“Passion is vital but it is easy to lose sight of WHY you started in the first place,” she added.
Race-Jones also believes it’s wise to build a team of people who are more skilled than you, especially when it comes to technology!
What groups/organisations is she involved with?
Race-Jones networks with like-minded people in the realms of business and education, meeting with Connect2mums, the Icehouse in NZ, and other language and educational associations.