HOW I MAKE IT WORK... Kellie Sloane on why she turned her back on TV.
IN 2015, SLOANE LEFT BEHIND A SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION-PRESENTING CAREER TO WORK FOR THE NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION LIFE EDUCATION. HERE, SHE TALKS ABOUT SHUNNING THE SPOTLIGHT
Starting out as a young journalist, I wanted to be Jana Wendt. So when I moved from Adelaide to Sydney for a role with the Nine Network in 1997 and they put me up in a harbourside apartment, it was beyond my wildest dreams.
One of the most exciting times in my career was co-hosting Today with Karl Stefanovic in 2007. There’s something extraordinary about three hours of live TV. You can have the Prime Minister in the studio at the same time as U2. I remember being the first journalist to have a personal tour of John Travolta’s jet, and that story ran all over the world.
Of course, the reality of morning TV is that it’s hard work. You have to get up at 3.30am and that’s not glamorous. I didn’t cope well with the early starts.
I made the mistake many women do and thought I could juggle it all. I’d work those early hours and then be a stay-athome mum to three boys, with all of the stress that entails. I didn’t support myself enough and when you do that, things can crumble around you. When I collapsed live on air in 2007, it was the only time in my life that’s happened. Unfortunately, when you collapse on national TV, it’s a bit hard to forget…
Television is one of the most exciting and enjoyable professions and I thought I’d be in that line of work for life. Now I find myself in an entirely different phase with completely different ambitions, but I’m just as excited.
Just before I changed careers, I had three job offers on the table, but I knew TV was no longer what I wanted to do. I’d lost the ambition I once had for it and was forging interests off-air. I saw my future in a different place. I made the decision to say no to the offers and focus on a future involving boards and strategies. I surprised a few people when I did that, but I felt a sense of relief.
I became the CEO of Life Education NSW in August 2015 and it was the most
dramatic professional change. There was never a moment I thought I couldn’t do it, though. I had been on the board of the charity and realised I had a passion and a strategy for it. I really believe in the work we do and I’m excited that [Life Education’s mascot] Healthy Harold will see an extra 30,000 kids in NSW this year.
I do miss getting my hair done for live television, but that’s about it.
Life Education programs run nationwide; lifeeducation.org.au.