Jo Murchie traded in her high-flying career to pursue another dream – having children. She tells SARAH FOSTER why she has no regrets about swapping the glamour for sleepless nights and dirty nappies.
As a sales director for Warner Bros she had experienced the kind of high-flying glamour most people can only ever dream of.
The majority of her time was spent abroad, either in the film and TV studios of Los Angeles, or in eastern Europe, selling the programmes her company made to foreign markets.
She’d even met Tom Cruise and had lunch with the cast of Friends.
She also had the pressure and stress that comes with the territory plus the high salary and perks to match.
But when she got pregnant with her first child, Charlotte, she chose not to do what she’d seen other colleagues do and juggle family life with her career. Instead, she walked away.
‘I think – in fact I know – that a lot of people in the industry thought I was completely bonkers,’ admits Jo.
‘But that was my decision and I was really lucky in that my husband supported it.’
The 36-year-old had worked in the TV industry for more than a decade and had worked her way up to director of sales for eastern Europe and the continent of Africa.
Her life was about hitting targets, making money and enjoying the finer things in life. She thrived on the pressure and loved the buzz of making big deals.
‘It was a huge job, the job of my dreams and I loved it,’ she says.
‘I travelled the world, I met some extremely famous people. I did it well and felt totally blessed that I had the opportunity to do that.
‘It was a very pressured environment but I thrived in that environment. I didn’t mind the commute to London, it was a great lifestyle and I really enjoyed it. I worked long hours and did huge amounts of travel. There was some nice perks but they made us work for them.’
Over the years Jo met everyone from Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, and the rest of the cast, to leading men and heart throbs such as Gerard Butler.
‘I would get to go to premieres and red carpet events and be a Warner Bros person there,’ she explains.
‘The stars were all really nice and they’d be interested in what was going on in my territories and how they were received there.
‘One of my most memorable experiences was telling Daniel Radcliffe that he was big in Kazakhstan.
‘He was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.’
With busy careers, Jo and husband Alistair didn’t always see a lot of each other.
Jo could spend anything from just two or three days abroad or she’d be on longer trips, lasting 10 days or more.
Most of her time was spent in places like Bulgaria, Lithuiania, Latvia and Croatia and she loved it.
But as a woman at the top of her game, doing a job she loved, there was still one big thing missing – children.
Today Jo is a picture of domestic contentment. One-year-old son Dylan is sleeping upstairs and Charlotte, two, is happily sitting on her mum’s lap watching TV.
Jo’s suitcase is no longer packed because jetting off isn’t part of her day to day life now.
Jo from Stokes Bay, Gosport, had always known she wanted children. But that inevitably meant changes would have to be made and the biggest of those was saying goodbye to her high-powered, lucrative and fulfilling, career.
‘I was looking to have a family and I always knew at the back of my mind that my career wasn’t going to last forever,’ she explains.
‘I’d seen other colleagues have children and they got in nannies and moved closer to Heathrow.
‘It just wasn’t for me. I would never judge anyone for doing it that way but I couldn’t be the mum I wanted to be like that.
‘So I knew I’d need a career break and going back part time, this wouldn’t have been a job I could have done like that.
‘I probably would have been putting my career before my family and, for me, that wasn’t what it was about. I had already made my decision.’
She adds: ‘Having children was my big dream. When Charlotte came along it was perfect and I got pregnant with Dylan 10 months later.’
Becoming a parent means most people have to juggle their lives to some extent. Adjustments and sacrifices have to be made. But Jo says she has no regrets about walking away from the job which had also been her life.
‘My career was right for me then but it wouldn’t be right for me now,’ she says.
‘I wanted to be here for my children. If I was working, at best case scenario if they needed me or were ill, I’d be two and a half hours away from them. At worst case scenario I’d be in LA.
‘I’ve got friends and colleagues who work and have children but it just wasn’t the way I saw myself as a mum.
‘I didn’t think it would be such an easy decision for someone who loved their career as much as I did but that changed once I became a mum.
‘I loved the travelling. If I was still doing that now I’d want to take my family with me, it wouldn’t seem right doing it on my own.
‘It almost feels like a dream. It’s so wholly different to my life now, it’s quite weird.’
She adds: ‘I’ve never looked back. But I never take it for granted.’
Leaving her career didn’t mean that Jo would never have to work again. And so when Dylan was six months old and she saw an advert in the back of a baby magazine for a new job that would allow her to work from home and be there for her kids, she started again.
Forever Living is the world’s biggest grower of aloe vera, a plant renowned for its healing properties for thousands of years. Jo sells their products from home and plans to expand her new business as her children get older.
She’s clearly passionate about her new venture – and also believes that others can leave the corporate world behind to stride out for themselves.
‘I’m not a natural housewife,’ she explains.
‘I would never be able to sit around all day. Having come from a job I loved so much, I thought it was still important for me to be fulfilled and interested, or I was just going to resent it when they went to pre-school and school, so it was definitely a plan to set up my own business.
‘I thought about being an independent consultant for the TV industry but I would still have spent my time abroad, I would still have the pressures, so I realised that wasn’t an option.
‘I’ve been a successful business woman, now I want to be a successful business mum.’
She adds: ‘The message I really want to get out is you can do it. It really can work running a business from home.
‘I don’t feel remotely guilty about it. At the moment I’m totally working around them. There’s no sales targets to hit but if you want to work around the clock you can.
‘I know lots of people who have given up their job and you really can do something like this from home.
‘It’s very difficult for people with young children to attend things like meetings but we all just bring them along and they play together and I don’t have to worry about that. Warner Bros was a family company but we would never have brought our children along to a meeting.
‘The interesting thing is that even people who know me well have said they’ve never seen me so passionate about something, even the things I did with Warner Bros. I’ve found my niche.
‘I would get excited about making multi-million pound deals, now I get incredibly excited if someone buys a bottle of shampoo. I was making money for someone else then, now I’m making money for myself, for my family.
‘It’s been a huge leap, I had a very high salary and this isn’t a get rich quick scheme. But you do have a good living to make from it.
‘If I hadn’t have had kids I would still be there. I do feel incredibly lucky to be able to do this. I could have had both – the career and the kids. But I’ve chosen not to have my cake and eat it.’