Dr Maxine Stead, Alexandra House - My First Job
PUBLISHED: 23:13 05 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:28 20 February 2013
Dr Maxine Stead, owner of Huddersfield-based holistic spa Alexandra House, talks us through her career so far
What was your first job?
I had various waitressing jobs as a teenager and student and was lucky enough to work for a restaurant that did a lot of outside catering for prominent customers like the Great Yorkshire Show and Bradford City Football Club. I also lived in Australia for a year and did some outside catering in the Australian bush near Alice Springs that was quite an experience as the only mode of transport was a helicopter.
What lessons did it teach you?
One of the key lessons I learnt was the importance of excellent customer service. When you make people feel valued and appreciated, it really makes a difference to their experience and makes them want to do business with you again. I also learnt the value of working hard for my money and the resulting benefits of financial independence.
How has your career progressed?
My career started on a very traditional path with a science degree at Leeds University followed by a PhD in cancer research (which I did part-time while working). I spent 14 years in project management in cancer research and then decided to have a complete change of direction. In 2007 I stepped off my previous career path and set up an award-winning holistic health and wellbeing spa, which now employs five therapists and a receptionist and attracts visitors from right across Yorkshire and far beyond.
What do you enjoy about your job now?
I love spending my day helping people relax and feel happier. Its fantastic to watch people completely de-stress and to see the transformation from tired and busy to rejuvenated and calm. After working in the NHS, I find the peaceful environment such a wonderful contrast.
Weve formed some lovely relationships with our regular clients and its an amazing feeling to know that youre making a real difference to peoples lives. The spa also works with several local businesses and its great to collaborate with other business owners.
Whats next for you?
The spa has taken me down a spiritual path and Ive started writing books and running workshops on how people can create more calm and balance in their life. Im also planning to build on my previous research experience and investigate holistic therapies in more depth. And, of course, Ill continue building the spa while maintaining a good work/life balance.
What advice would you give?
Always follow your heart. Everyone thought I was crazy to give up a well-paid job with good prospects and a national reputation, but in my heart I knew the spa was the right choice for me. I backed it up with a solid business plan and market research and I havent looked back since.
The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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