Belfast Telegraph

'Life's too short and too precious not to enjoy it'

Judith was recently on holiday in Majorca
Judith was recently on holiday in Majorca

Q&A: Judith Totten

Q: What's the best piece of business (or life) advice you've ever been given? 

A: It costs nothing to be kind. So if you cannot help a client, tell them and try to signpost them to someone who can. Oh - and have one good belly laugh a day. Life's too short and too precious not to enjoy it.

Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?

A: Never be afraid to ask for help - and there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Q: What was your best business decision?

A: Probably to buy out my original business partner, rebrand as Upstream and scale. It was a risk but it has been worth every crazy moment.

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Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?

A: That has changed over the years, but right now. I'm keen to work on building stronger linkages from post-primary level in education through to employment, whatever that path may be.

I feel it can be a very frightening and disjointed experience for our young people - and their parents.

It is something I have become involved in of late - both as a parent and an employer - and I believe we have a duty to help guide our young people to success.

Q: What was your last holiday?

A: I was in Majorca in September and I have my summer holiday booked for 2020 to Biarritz in France, but I'm sure I will squeeze in something else before then.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: I love nothing better than spending time with my granddaughter Emily, who at five is a bundle of fun and energy!

Q: What is your favourite sport and team?

A: I'm not really into sport that much, but I would follow Ulster Rugby.

Q: And have you ever played any sports?

A: Hockey - I was a goalie.

Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?

A: I am a big murder-mystery/forensics fan so anything by Kathy Reichs or Jeffrey Deaver gets my vote.

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: Very happy. I grew up in Holywood, in a very loving family unit with my mum and dad, and my big sister. I attended Sullivan Upper School and spent every spare second horse riding in those days. I still have friends from those days and Holywood will always be home.

Q: Have you any economic predictions?

A: Does anyone right now? Joking aside, Northern Ireland is resilient and we have proven that time and again over the years.

Currently it feels like a lot of business owners are in a holding pattern waiting for Stormont to function again and a Brexit decision to be taken.

That said, in Upstream we remain busy with a healthy pipeline of new business and we have a lot of clients who are just 'getting on with it'.

I hope for a Brexit deal which gives us the benefit of proximity and trade to a euro economy while maintaining our current UK relationships - but I quietly fear something less favourable.

However, whatever comes, we will waken up the next day and just plot our way through the challenges. We always do.

Q: How would you assess your time in business with your company Upstream?

A: It has been a roller coaster at times - lots of highs and of course a few lows, but not one single regret. Even the bad days teach you something - and that is a positive.

Q: How do you sum up working in the finance sector?

A: Well, it is my life and I have made so many good friends along the way - how could I not love it?

Belfast Telegraph

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