Meet Anna — a kickass mumma bear AND a business chick to boot. She’s dedicated, motivated, driven and has succeeded in everything she’s put her mind to… including beating Leukaemia! She’s made some unimaginable decisions along the way but she’s come out on top… read her story here.
1. Who are you / what do you do / what’s your background story?
I am a wife to an amazing man George, that has always been my number one supporter, and who has always given me the confidence to follow my dreams. I am a mother of two beautiful boys, Oliver 9 Sebastian 4. I am a lover of the outdoors, my favourite colour is green, I have two toy cavoodles, Toby and Elliot. I was born in Austria, but my heritage is Polish. I love cake!!
I have always been a very determined and competitive person. I was brought up to work hard, respect others and to not give up. I am a solutions orientated person. I always look to find a way to a make something happen. I am a person of extremes.
During year 12, I had placed so much pressure on myself to do well to the point that I choked in my final exams and didn’t get into my selected university courses. I felt like a complete failure and that I had embarrassed myself and my family. I felt a little lost in which direction to head and over the next few years I travelled, played tennis overseas, worked in a variety of retail and call centre jobs and then finally stumbled into the role of Trainee Recruitment Consultant at Hays.
The first 12 months in recruitment was extremely hard, but I found it to be a role that I really loved as I had always been a people person. I had my ups and down in my journey as a recruitment consultant, and over the past 15 years I had worked for 3 different agencies, both large and small. (I have always struggled with the culture of recruitment). My first business journey was at the age of 27, where I led Keystone Personnel. However the timing of this business wasn’t quite right, and to be honest, I wasn’t ready to be a business owner. I was naive to think that, because I was a good recruitment consultant, I would be a good business manager and leader…
I had the opportunity to re-join a leader in the recruitment industry and I was determined to grow the construction and property division I was working in and develop my skills as a leader. I worked hard, hit a variety of targets and at the end of 2015, I was promoted to a Senior Manager. At that time, the promotion meant the world to me. It was something I needed to squash my insecurities about feeling good about myself and what I had achieved in life. I was always down on myself for not completing a degree.
One month later at the start of 2016 I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I was 33 and pregnant with our little girl who was nearly 22 weeks old. This news absolutely shattered my life. Sebastian was only 15 months old at the time and I wasn’t feeling sick so the news came as an absolute shock. For a week George and I cried every day and grieved the situation we were in and the decisions we had to make, to ensure I had the best chance of getting through the journey that was ahead of me.
We were told it was an aggressive form of cancer and if we didn’t start treatment straight away I could be gone within two months. We made the hardest decision of our lives and terminated our pregnancy and unfortunately Mila was born stillborn. 3 days later I was in a different hospital getting ready to undertake the battle of my life. Over 6 months I had multiple rounds of Chemo as well as my life saving bone marrow transplant. After the transplant my next journey was in front of me – recovery. I had to focus on both my mental and psychical recovery, and after the transplant I was in lock down in our home for 100 days.
I was determined to get better quickly as I wanted our normal life to return. I wanted my boys to feel safe and I wanted them to know that mummy wasn’t going back to the hospital.
On January 12th 2017, exactly 12 months to the day of my diagnosis, I re-entered the workforce and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It was such an emotional day and the feelings were so overwhelming, but I was back.
However when I returned to work it felt different, something didn’t sit right with me anymore. I would come home feeling puzzled and then the realisation hit me, it wasn’t my work, it was me. I was different and I felt like I had a different purpose in life.
In March 2017, I created Anna Roussos Recruitment Advisory. I was determined to build a recruitment consultancy that had a true focus on people. I wanted to create an agency that made a difference in people’s lives. Not only by making placements and growing businesses, but by ensuring that our passion for sourcing talent, building relationships and the love of helping people was also shown through philanthropy.
18 months on my dream is becoming a reality. We have now formed partnerships with 3 South Australian Charities, we have a growing team and in our first year of business, and we have smashed our revenue targets. I love what I do and I believe that the business has a real purpose and that we are only scratching the surface of what we are going to achieve in the years to come. I feel that Anna Roussos Recruitment Advisory is the vehicle for me to do great things and it ensures that my main driver, my little girl, Mila, is proud of her mum. Together her and I are going to kick arse.
2. What’s your daily mantra?
Make today count! Everyday I go to work and spend time away from my family so I am going to make sure that I do everything I can to make that day count.
3. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
Recently I went to a Business Chicks event. I related to Emma Issac’s in so many ways, but one thing that truly made me reconfirm what I am doing, and that I am not the only one trying to create magic, was this piece of advice she gave us.
“Nothing magical happens when you go to work at 9am, leave at 5pm, do a yoga class, catch up some Netflix and fall in to bed.”
Magic to me is all that stuff that happens when you don’t have set plans, it’s the stuff that happens at the extremes. It’s in these extremes – the risks, the fear, the unexpected, the fun that ultimately define who we are and the impact we make.
4. Who is the person that you look up to the most?
I know I should probably say a celebrity’s name, or another successful female entrepreneur, but I have to say that I look up to my husband. Not only is he my best friend but he always has the best advice. I have never met such a selfless person. He is caring, generous and considerate. He has honestly made me a better person, and a stronger business women.
5. What’s your favourite place in SA?
I love Mt Crawford forests. It is only a 45 min drive from the city and in the winter I love going up there with the family, making a small a fire, cooking sausages, picking mushrooms, walking through the woods and breathing in the amazing fresh air. It is honestly such a great escape.
6. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. My English teacher said that I could sell Ice to Eskimo’s.
7. We love to celebrate the little wins – what was one of your most celebrated moments in your business?
My most celebrated time in my business to date was creating the HappySeeker team, and when we supported the Jodie Lee Foundation in their yearly trek, and our team nearly raised $50,000. It was such as amazing feeling that in our first year and with a team of two, we were able to put this team together and make such an impact.
8. When you got your first pay check EVER, what’s the first thing that you bought?
First job was at the age of 14 with KFC. Of course it was clothes!