Lee Portelli

You are here

Job Title: 
General Manager

I have had the most amazing and varied working career since I commenced my 5 year Jockey Apprenticeship in 1988 in Sydney. I managed (somehow, because I love my food and constantly struggled with my weight) to continue and complete this apprenticeship in Brisbane.  I then rode professionally for a further year back in Sydney before leaving the family business and profession all together.

At the age of 21 and dreaming of going to work in corporate clothing and high heels (and staying clean!), I was provided an opportunity to work at a home display village for a major residential building company in Sydney. As my knowledge grew of office procedures, the building industry and the company itself, I was promoted quite quickly through the ranks and worked in the head office for a number of years.

I got married somewhere along the line and had two children when we decided to leave the rat race and search for a land where keeping up with the Jones' was not the main focus. We set off in a motor home with the intention to travel around Australia and see what was out there.

We found Darwin .... by mistake. Circumstances meant we couldn't continue our travels as planned and we found the work opportunities here were boundless! My first professional role in Darwin was as a PA and Legal Secretary for the National law firm, Clayton Utz, becoming their conveyancer and running client files under the guidance of the Property Lawyer. I was also selected to represent the Darwin office on the National Board for Clayton Utz's Community Connect Program - a very rewarding experience.

After some time, I was offered many varying opportunities over the next number of years, including Office Manager for the School of Science at Charles Darwin University, Project Officer at Australian Hotels Association NT, Memberships Executive for the Chamber of Commerce NT and finally, completely left of field, I was offered a role with a local glossy magazine as an Advertising Executive. Where else do you receive such wonderful and varied professional opportunities?!

I became a single mum and while working full time, purchased a small business. The business was running smoothly and I had another idea to commence a pre-loved designer clothing business, which went from a spare bedroom in my home to a retail space in just a few years.  To say I was busy is an understatement.

My full time employment continued and after leaving the magazine, I decided to do temp work under my own ABN and started working part time for a plastic surgeon (interesting!) and a financial planner (for 2.5 days per week each). After a short period of time I accepted a full time role with the financial planner. I left after a few years to give my clothing business my full attention during the busy Darwin dry season period, when I was lucky to have been offered a role with All Financial Services.  I grasped the opportunity to work at AFS with both hands and was lucky to sell the clothing business which is still operating today.

I thoroughly enjoy the industry and the knowledge I have gained for not only my own personal financial wellbeing, but seeing what can be done for others. I had never been an advocate for Superannuation and the governance of super accounts (understanding that the rules could change by the time I retired) and intended to be "self funded" through property investment - divorce was a very unintended life event which meant my dreams of a self funded retirement were severely compromised.

I now have the sole financial responsibility for my two (now teenage) daughters and my current and future financial wellbeing has been well managed as a result of the experience I have gained within the industry.

My previous experience also includes involvement as a committee member for the Darwin City & Waterfront Retailers Association and as a member of the Northern Territory Fashion Week Advisory Group - in addition to a few horse club committees thanks to my daughters' genetic interest in horses.

I have really enjoyed my time here as part of the AFS family and the opportunity to be the General Manager is a huge responsibility I've been incredibly lucky to be awarded. The challenges and further knowledge I will acquire in this role is very exciting to me!  Darwin certainly is the land of opportunity. 

Finally .... I still attend the races on occasions ...... in high heels, a fascinator and a pretty dress AND I can eat what I like!