From Spreadsheets to Dropping Beats

Anyone working in the financial sector would be well familiar with the stereotypes that come with the territory. Bean counting, boring, maths nerds.

Needless to say, these labels are far from the truth and most especially for Sydney finance manager Aistė Leonavičiūtė.

While her day job is spent managing the finances of toy and hobby retailer Hobbyco, by night she is a deck-spinning DJ playing to throbbing crowds of up to 900 clubbers.

“A lot of people think finance and accounting can be boring and it’s just spreadsheets, Excel and Xero all day, every day,” Aistė said.

“Essentially that is all part of the job, but finance is exciting. I’m feel very driven and excited to come to work.

“But after work I can change and experience something different. A lot of people they are tired and come home from work and watch TV, which I do sometimes too. Music is just something that makes me very happy.”

Aistė plays at electronic music parties and often supports international acts, most recently famed Dutch group Tinlicker. A fan of house music, she began DJing at 15 in her home country of Lithuania.

Aistė became so accomplished as a DJ, she toured Lithuania at 16 with legendary local DJs Kastis Torrau and Donatello.

“I thought I was going to be a superstar DJ and never considered anything else in my life,” she said.

“There was a point in time where I was DJing every weekend. Now it’s once or twice a month because we’re still coming out of COVID I guess. Prior to that, it would have been four or five times a month.”

Aistė brought her love of DJing to Australia while on a gap year after graduating from high school. A cousin invited her over and she fell in love with the people, the lifestyle and the weather.

“I love how Australia has so many different cultures,” she said.

“In Lithuania it’s mainly Lithuanians or Russians or Baltic States country people. So it’s just nice to be surrounded with all different cultures because you don’t experience that in my country.

“And in Lithuania we have all four seasons, but the sun’s not as warm as it is in Australia. I try to go to the beach as much as I can.”

Upgrading her tourist visa to a student visa, Aistė began studying marketing at the Melbourne Institute of Technology in Sydney. She then transferred to the Australian Institute of Higher Education where a series of fortunate mistakes led her to an accounting course.

“I wanted to do a major in business administration and I was quite late to that enrolment, so I said it didn’t matter what type of subjects I did because I would make it work,” she said.

“They enrolled me into accounting. It was one or two more accounting subjects, which were similar to some of the business subjects I’ve done.

Aistė Leonavičiūtė ‘9 to 5’

“But a few weeks later, I thought something was really not correct because the subjects were really intense accounting. I went to see the staff and they said they made a mistake and enrolled me in accounting.

“I was on a student visa and I only had just enough time to finish the course, there was no time to defer.

“And that’s the funny part, that kind of challenge pushed me a bit and I ended up loving it by the end.”

Completing the course with a newfound love for finance, Aistė found a graduate position at Hobbyco. The company, which was founded in 1935, has a prominent shopfront at Sydney’s historic Queen Victoria Building and a dedicated customer base of Lego, model train and collectible lovers.

When Aistė came on board in mid-2020, pandemic restrictions were beginning and the business was in the throes of a rapid expansion.

Her position was meant to be a temporary one, but after two months Aistė was offered a full-time position and four months ago, she took on the role of acting finance manager.

During this time she was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which she said made working from home a challenge.

“I always knew I had it, but I just didn’t push myself to get help,” Aistė explained.

“The reason I’m sharing it is because people think if you have ADHD you can’t work in finance, but I think you can do whatever you want to do.

“I was working from home for the better part of last year and I was really struggling with my attention and focus, so I was very happy to be back in the office.”

After keeping quiet about her DJing for fear of negative judgement, Aistė recently decided to tell her Hobbyco workmates. It was a decision she didn’t regret.

“There is a stigma when you say you’re a DJ or you like electronic music,” she said.

“People always assume you’re not like a serious person, I guess. That you might just like to go out clubbing every weekend.

“So I never told anyone about my music and I kept it very private, and then later on I felt a good connection with the team.

“To be honest there’s no reason to hide what you like in life from absolutely anyone because it just puts a strain on yourself and you just feel a bit insecure.”