Meet Holly Williams, CEO of HeartKids Queensland Inc. In her job, Holly is an advocate for bubs born with childhood heart disease or “heart kids” as they are known. She’s married to Richard and is also mum to Jackson (8), HeartKid Matilda (7) and Addison (5).
Tell us about HeartKids QLD and your role there?
Every day in Australia, eight babies are born with childhood heart disease (CHD) and every week, four will die. It is the single biggest cause of death of children under the age of one and is a lifelong disease with no known cure. CHD is not a single condition; it includes a wide range of heart defects that a child is born with or develops in childhood as a result of other illnesses. In some cases it will require major heart surgery, while for others it will remain undiagnosed until adolescence or adulthood. Families of babies born with heart defects endure enormous emotional and financial stress and the news is often received without warning. Having surgery is not a cure. Children with CHD will face unique challenges for the rest of their lives and for many, this will include ongoing medical treatment and repeated heart surgeries.
HeartKids is a registered national health charity. Working with health professionals, HeartKids provides lifelong support for those with CHD and their families Australia-wide. HeartKids also funds lifesaving research, advocates and informs. To date, HeartKids has committed almost $3 million to fund research into the causes, treatment and management of CHD.
What’s your business/career background leading up to your role as CEO of HeartKids QLD?
Following university, I worked in both Australia and New Zealand as an engineer. During this time I continued to study and develop my skills and sat on a number of boards and management committees to gain invaluable experience. Following the birth of our second child, Matilda, a heart kid, we moved to Brisbane to be closer to medical help. I joined the board of HeartKids Queensland Inc. in 2012 and commenced in the role of CEO in 2014.
Who were your mentors along the way?
My parents have always been amazing mentors and provide unwavering support for me and my family. My husband (pictured above right) keeps me sane and taught me everything I know as an engineer. My rst ever real boss, Scott Graham, was and still is the best mentor you could ask for. He has the most amazing ability to make you want to strive for greatness. After listening to me speak at a HeartKids event, Scott told me how proud he was of me – you can’t get a greater compliment than that!
What time does a typical day start for you?
My alarm goes of at 5.10am and then 5.20am.
Who does the cooking and cleaning at your house?
It is a bit of a combined effort in our household, however we do have an amazing cleaner who visits once a week.
If you have 10 minutes to yourself, what do you like to do?
These moments are rare so it is just nice to stop and do nothing and enjoy the quiet.
What do you do for childcare?
With three busy kids and our long work hours we have an au pair to help out with the kids.
Do your kids do many extracurricular activities?
Yes, they keep very busy with swimming, AFL for jack, dance lessons for the girls and music lessons.
What do you do for fun as a family?
We love to go camping and get out in the kayak.
What is your favourite thing to do for date night with your partner?
Just go out for dinner and drinks.
What is your favourite local place to visit?
Sirromet Winery on a Sunday – we all love it!
How about your favourite place to eat out as a family?
Again, Sirromet Winery, on the terrace.
Where do you head to when you get time for a girls’ night out?
We usually try a different place every time.
What is your best beauty tip for mums?
Do what works for you, but I am a big fan of all Issada products.
Favourite place to shop (locally and online)?
Definitely Blue Bungalow at Newstead for both instore and online.
Must-have parenting tip or tool?
Put everything in your calendar, get organised the night before and always have a back-up plan.
Can you share any tips on finding the right work/life balance?
I have by no means mastered this one. It is very difficult to be everything to everyone who needs you but my family is always my number one priority.
How do you stay motivated in your career?
Everyday I have the honour of living with and working with some incredibly inspirational people. As a HeartKid parent I know first hand how important our organisation is so even on the toughest days I don’t have to look far for some motivation.