FROM LANDSCAPING TO ACCOUNTANCY, NARELLE CAMERON IS A WOMAN WITH PLENTY OF PERSONALITY WHO REFUSES TO BE LABELLED, PREFERRING TO MAKE HER OWN RULES AND LIVE HER LIFE OUT LOUD. NARELLE SHARES WITH ANGELA NORVAL HOW SHE CONTINUES TO DEFY THE TRADITIONAL RULES AND MAKE HER MARK.
Visiting the accountant is like being sent to the principal’s office as a child. You sit cautiously crossing and uncrossing your legs, smiling sweetly at the receptionist and pretending to be interested in the artwork on the walls.
Thankfully on this occasion, the woman I am waiting for is nothing like your stereotypical accountant and I am actually interested in the artwork, madly trying to decipher what the piece to my left represents.
When I finally do get to meet the woman behind the name Platinum Tax Solutions, Narelle Cameron, it becomes clear why the walls are splashed with such colour and bold artwork (that puzzling piece turns out to be a woman’s form).
From the moment you meet Narelle you are immediately taken by her larger-than-life personality. She is a woman who has embraced everything life has thrown at her and continues to greet each day with contagious enthusiasm.
As I sit across from her, I find myself declining a cup of tea because I am keen to know how a woman can make such different career choices work while raising three children (and when does she sleep?).
Originally from Brisbane, Narelle began her career in landscaping, mentioning her mother as the driving force behind her decision.
“I became a landscaper I think because my entire childhood I was dragged by my mother through antique shops and nurseries, but it must have rubbed off somewhere along the line,” Narelle recalls.
“We were always involved in the garden at home and I developed a love of plants so decided to pursue landscaping.
“As one of the first females to pursue landscaping qualifications, when I walked into my first class there were all these guys there and the teacher looked at me and said, ‘Are you lost love?’.
“It took a while to be accepted into the classroom first and then when I broke into the industry I had to be twice as good as a female than a male.’’
Not one to be held back, Narelle became a foreman for a large recognised firm, gaining the respect of the men on her team before starting her own successful landscaping business with her husband, Brad, a fireman.
If that wasn’t enough, Narelle and Brad also renovated not one but two houses during this time.
Narelle jokes how her children, Nicola, Peter and Lachlan, remember having to stay out of one room or another or all bunking in together during the renovations.
Citing a desire for acreage, and ageing parents, Narelle then moved to the Sunshine Coast and decided it was time for a career change.
“With our move it was a case of let’s go and live the dream, plus I was sick of working very long hours in the sun. It was hard work, and getting older I needed to grow up and get a real job. So I thought, oh well, I will study accounting.’’
Again Narelle’s survival instinct kicked in as she worked full-time for an accountant firm as well as studying externally for her degree with three children at home.
It was then she met the amazing man who would become her mentor before his untimely death at 55 – Ken Spark.
“Ken taught me many things in the time I knew him, including dressing for success, always showing your personality, and his favourite saying was ‘It’s not bloody rocket science’.
“When he died I decided it was time to go out on my own. I had to prove to myself that all this mentoring worked.”
From her office in Noosa Heads, Narelle has changed clients’ expectations of a staid accountant. Instead, she has filled her work space with colour and exuberant personalities much like her own.
“Working for someone else, I find that very crippling creatively – here we throw ideas around and we create something from those ideas.”
But life isn’t all work and no play for Narelle, who is a big believer in maintaining balance, escaping to 12 acres in the Noosa Hinterland when she needs a little peace and quiet.
“Some days the stress can be amazing in this industry, so when I turn on to our little dirt road everything is good.
“I have a glass of wine and walk around the garden, I just love that lifestyle.’’
Another passion that helps maintain Narelle’s sanity is music.
So much was her love of music that last New Year’s Eve Narelle decided to learn the acoustic guitar before starting a band with friends, Geddy and the Whacka Sisters.
But despite turning 50 in November, Narelle, much like her beloved mother who is now an eccentric artist, shows no signs of slowing down.
Instead she is more focused on quality time with Brad and perfecting the guitar … and given Narelle’s enthusiasm, the guitar will probably not be her last project.