When Janet Xuccoa was admitted to the Bar in an online ceremony on Friday 29th October 2021 in the midst of a Covid lockdown, it was not the High Court occasion and celebration she had envisaged.  After an education journey of almost 30 years studying part time for two degrees whilst working full time and writing 3 bestselling books, she had planned to throw a party!  However, this was just another obstacle that by now, Janet was well versed in overcoming. 

Janet is a successful businesswoman, author, public speaker and Trusts Specialist who has a passion for sharing her knowledge, based on the principle of ‘paying it forward’.  This comes from a place of knowing what it feels like to be given a helping hand when all other doors have closed which is why she has decided to leave a generous gift in her Will to The Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust (KEECT).  At face value, she has it all, but what is most interesting is the lengths she went to achieve her goals, the sacrifices she made, and the obstacles she overcame on the way. 

Janet was born in England to a British mother and an Arabian father.  The family moved to New Zealand when Janet was very young.  She had a difficult family upbringing, particularly with her dominant father who placed no value on education, especially for women, so as soon as she finished school, she left her home and began her quest to gain further education.

She began working as a receptionist while attending night school studying basic accounting.  She then took a job in a law firm as a legal secretary and studied for a Legal Executive qualification.  Janet soon began working as a Legal Executive, quickly proving her sharp intellect and astute work ethic.  This is when she commenced studying part time for a BCom degree, attending one lecture a day around her full time work schedule. 

Janet lived paycheck to paycheck on a tight budget for many years, supporting herself and paying for her university fees.  Unexpected expenses required thinking outside the square.  She tells of the time she and a friend set up a car washing station on a busy street corner with buckets of soapy water to earn the immediate cash she needed to fix her broken down car and pay her university fees.

She also remembers the tea lady who would quietly give her the leftover sandwiches after in-house lunches citing they would just go to waste otherwise, but knowing that Janet had little money for food.  These small acts of kindness made a huge difference when she needed it most and are what fuels her desire to do the same for others now. 

When Janet learned about The KEECT and the financial support it offers students, she wondered how differently her path would have played out if she had had access to something similar when she was putting herself through university.  It would have at the very minimum alleviated the financial strain she was constantly under, and may well have afforded her the option to study full time and complete her qualifications sooner.  But it would have also validated and encouraged her decision to study. 

After a series of jobs that got bigger each time enabling her financial situation to steadily improve, she was headhunted to work for the senior legal counsel and corporate secretary of a large banking institution.  It was while working there that she decided she wanted to go to Law School.   She applied but missed out on the first round by 0.4% of the required GPA.  She was accepted a year later and quickly mastered the art of balancing the papers to ensure a more manageable workload (while still working full time).  Overall, Janet found the learning relatively easy as she had so much practical industry knowledge from working far above her Legal Secretary pay grade for many years already.  

Several years later Janet graduated with her Law degree.  By now she had been working with a prominent accounting firm for 3 years where she had been made a partner in the first 9 months.  During her 16 years there, she ‘shook the tiger by the tail’ and became an expert on Trusts, alongside publishing 3 books; Family Trust 101, Money Secrets 101, and Women & Money: Mastering the Struggle

During this time, Janet also traveled the country extensively educating businesses and individuals on setting up and managing trusts.  She remembers one year where she took 82 flights and gave 109 presentations – all water off a duck’s back for this dynamic woman who only needs 5 hours sleep and in her own words, ‘gets bored easily’.  She is currently the In-House Legal Counsel and Trust Advisor at Greenlion Limited, and in her ‘spare time’ she is working on the premise for her 4th book. 

Janet has spent a total of 24 years studying part-time alongside a demanding career, graduating from the University of Auckland with a BCom in 2001 and her LLB in 2008, culminating with her admission to the Bar in 2021.  She knows that it was this education alongside sheer grit, determination and hard work that has paved the way to her success and financial stability.   

She is a firm believer in education as a tool for building a more ‘ably equipped, stronger person’ and her books optimise this belief that education drives better outcomes for people and society as a whole.  This is why she hopes her bequest as a ‘gift into the future’ will help The KEECT to support students to have equal access to education despite their circumstances.  Janet cares deeply about people and as such, being remembered for her ‘kindness in words, deeds and actions’ is more important to her than her many successes and achievements.  

We are delighted that Janet has chosen The KEECT to leave a lasting legacy of her passion for people and education, and thank her for her generosity and kindness.

Gifts in a Will (a bequest), whether big or small, are a very special way to assist a charity into the future, at no cost to you now.  If you would like to find out more about leaving a Gift in your Will, please contact Nina Tomaszyk, General Manager, for a confidential discussion.

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