Julia Crowley

julia crowley

It was a true pleasure to talk to Julia Crowley, who, having been in various senior roles in fundraising, now runs her own dog walking/care company (which in a short space of time is already at capacity) which she is extremely passionate about. She loves dogs and has truly found her calling! 

Julia is a lovely human being. She’s a lot of fun, very humble, has a strong sense of responsibility and is very ethically driven. One of the proudest moments in my own career was her taking the decision to turn down a very senior role at another organisation in order to work with us in a less well paid, more junior position, at UrbanLeaf because she believed in our values and respected the culture we had created. That reflected well on us, but it still takes a rare human being to make a decision like that!


What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life? 

The Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb is the book I have given as a gift the most. I don’t normally read fantasy books, but I loved this one.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks, is a fascinating insight into the world of neurological disorders.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It tells the story of Calliope Stephanides and her family, who travel from a tiny Greek village to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. 

To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal. So well written, funny and sad and full of history. 


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? (Brand and model, where you found it?)

A set of dumbbells, and kettlebells. It meant I could easily train at home, get and stay fit. It’s made a huge difference in my life.  


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

I moved to a new company into a more senior position, but it turned out it wasn’t the right job for me, or the right company. It was hard to go through. 

When I left, I had two job offers in front of me – one meant going back into a high pressured, very senior role, like the one I was in before, the other meant taking less money, but in a culture I would like to work in, that shared my values and would allow me to get a better work/life balance. 

That previous ‘failure’ enabled me to choose the latter and come and work with you at UrbanLeaf and I have been happier ever since. You give me the chance to work the way I wanted. to be authentic and to be more courageous.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

Be kind and practice forgiveness.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

My dogs. I love my dogs, they bring so much joy into my life!


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I drink a cup of coffee in the shower every day to start my day. It’s my wake up ritual.


In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

Exercising regularly. Whatever challenges you face in life, facing them when you are fit and strong means you cope with them better.  If you keep your body healthy, it keeps your mind healthy; it makes you more resilient, more positive, means you sleep better, makes your decision making better. It makes you a better version of yourself.

(One of the benefits of working at UrbanLeaf was the flexibility to regularly exercise, which helped me both personally and professionally. I will never stop doing it).


What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?”

Be generous with your skills, your knowledge and your time.

Build a network.


What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Chasing promotions and more money.

If you want to be happy in life, don’t chase the money and status, instead, do something you are great at, that you love. Be yourself.


What frustrates you the most about your industry and the way companies are run in it?

I now run my own dog walking/care business. Another decision to choose something I love and a balanced life, over money. In my industry, sometimes you see people taking on too many dogs in order to earn more money, and the quality of care drops. 


In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realisations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

I have always found this hard, but I think part of this is about being in the right culture. When I worked with you guys at UrbanLeaf, I felt like I could push back, say no to things. It didn’t mean I never did them in the end, but I felt my opinion was always heard, and counted.


What does a balanced life look like to you? Has a work or a project you have been focused on caused you to neglect other areas of your life?

To me (as well as having the time for my personal life and exercise) a balanced life means that my work is something that I love doing, working authentically.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

Call my twin sister and talk things through with her, or talk to my husband, Glen. Sometimes, I just take a deep breath, or have a conversation with myself. 


What does leadership mean to you?

The best leader I feel I have ever come across was a very senior colleague at the British Red Cross. He told inspiring stories, but much more important than that, even though he was very senior, he was very down to earth. willing to talk to anyone, made everyone feel that they mattered, was kind and open and thanked us.


Which people have most inspired you in your life and why?

My twin sister.  We’re really close. The last 5 years have been very tough for her and the way she has overcome adversity, the bravery and resilience she has shown and so has come out the other side. That has inspired me!


What do the words principles and values mean to you?

How you live your life, your moral compass. When the shit hits the fan, do you still live by your values?


If you had a forum to speak to 50 leaders, what question would you pose to them, to get them thinking about and being better leaders?

What are you doing to make yourself more accessible to everyone in your business?


What one thing could you do that you aren’t doing now, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?  What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?

In my personal life, it would be to have more friendships outside my family group. 

In my professional life, it would be to review my prices without feeling guilty!


Have you ever engaged with self-help, mentoring or coaching? If so, how?

Yes. The first time, a company I worked for paid for psychosynthesis counselling for their staff. In the first couple of sessions I didn’t engage and just said nothing, but in the end I opened up and came to love the sessions. Time focussed on just me.

If I had more money, I’d see a therapist every week!

Topic: 50 in 50