When Florencia Pyke arrived in Australia, her then-boyfriend Mike – who was heading over for a try-out with the Sydney Swans – told her not to get too attached to the country.
“We came here for a trial and Mike very explicitly said to me ‘don’t get too excited, just pack a carry on’,” Florencia said.
“Which to this day I regret, because we never went back to France [where they had been based while Mike played rugby] – so all my stuff is still there in somebody’s basement.”
Eight years later, with now-husband Mike having forged and concluded a Premiership-winning AFL career at the Swans (the first Canadian to play the game at a professional level), the pair – both hailing from Victoria, British Columbia – remain in Sydney with their two young kids. And while Mike’s career path since their arrival has been challenging but fairly direct, that hasn’t been the case for Florencia.
“We came not under a 457 visa but a special sporting visa, so I didn’t have the entitlement to work,” she explained.
“So I trained for a half marathon to keep myself busy, and I cooked and I tried to make friends and I just got to know the city. I enrolled to do my MBA at UTS, I did an MBA in Marketing, and until I could work, that’s what I did.”
When Florencia was finally permitted the opportunity to work, she found an unlikely opportunity with a company called Abuzz, selling Wayfinders around Sydney.
“It was a really great opportunity for me – the environment at that company was so nice, and very welcoming which was exactly what I needed, because I didn’t know many people in Sydney. It kind of became like a second family – I felt very blessed to have that opportunity come up, and it gave me a platform to then say I’ve got local experience,” she said.
After then spending four years at AMP managing a pop-up team around Australia, the Pykes started their family and Florencia decided to take greater control over her working life.
“I started a business called Elva marketing, a digital marketing agency which is still in full function, we have many clients around Australia we travel every week,” she said.
“Around the time that Mike retired, I had been introduced to a personal and life coach who had a mutual client to myself, and said ‘I really think you girls should meet, because you both have very complimentary skill sets, and are both very ambitious and I think you might gel well, and you don’t know what might happen’.
“We put it off for weeks, because she’s in Perth so it was going to be a Skype meeting, we were both super flat chat, we both had newborns, it was crazy with our own businesses and everything else that comes with family life. Eventually we decided to meet and one thing led to the next and immediately we knew that there was something there, that we could build something really powerful together.”
The challenges in getting that first meeting set in stone very much reflect what Florencia and her new business partner Anna Jonak, are trying to help break down for women with their new venture.
“[Anna] said to me ‘I’ve got this idea that I want to start these business courses for mums because I see so many of my clients who want to start a business but they don’t know how, and they don’t even know where to start.’ And she asked me if I wanted to come on the ride, on the journey with her, and I thought “yeah, why not?’.”
So the pair set out on creating a business course specifically for mums who are looking to re-start their careers, helping to support them in cultivating and bringing their own ideas to life by teaching them not just the important rules about starting their business, but about training them to get into a frame of mind which will set them on the path to success – Business School for Mums was born.
“One of the most predominant challenges would be the mindset element around a lack of confidence, feeling overwhelmed, not knowing how to manage their time efficiently to get it all done. Managing a family in itself can be really time consuming, particularly for some of our students who have upwards of three kids and then running a business on top of that, it seems next to impossible,” she said.
“One of our biggest points of difference to any other business course out there is that we do so much on mindset. For mums in particular who are struggling with so many things, I think that’s the biggest gain that they experience on the course; it all starts with that mindset, and when they realise they can unlock the power of their mindset, they’re unstoppable.”
And the course seems to be resonating with testimonials from women who have already begun to see the benefits in their own business careers.
“We’ve had hundreds of students on now from all over the world, and it’s growing exceptionally fast – we get new students every day, and the feedback around the course has been phenomenal. We’re already starting to see women take their business to the next level – it’s been incredibly fulfilling,” she said.
With the success of the program already evident in Australia, there are already plans to expand internationally.
“At the moment we’re basically laying out the foundations and working out what we need from a business stand point to be able to launch into the US. So the US is next on the cards, and then it’ll be the UK and Canada,” she said.
“The US will be a really great pilot for us –we have already had some American students come on the course and it’s really exciting.”