Spotlight on…Brunella Bugeja

Life beyond accounting

Brunella Bugeja is Tax Senior within the Tax Department of Mazars Malta. She is ACCA accredited and completed her studies in 2015. Subsequently, she obtained a diploma in VAT compliance. Bugeja is an associate member of the Malta Institute of Accountants and an affiliate of the Associations of Chartered Certified Accountants. She is also a member of the Association of Taxation Technicians.

I have always had a passion for fashion. I love unique style and experimenting with new clothing. I have always believed that an outfit may alter how people approach and interact with the world. This love for fashion eventually landed me an unexpected modelling career, which took off around three years ago, when I was scouted by a representative of a local modelling agency. Since then, my me-time has been all about photoshoots, castings, fashion shows and advertising campaigns.

I have modelled for various local and foreign designers, taken part in seasonal fashion shows organised by local representatives of international brands, modelled for Malta Fashion Week, had different photoshoots, some of which photos were published in local newspapers and magazines and have also taken part in local advertising campaigns.

Through all these fashion related activities I have met different people who share my love for fashion: Creative people, such as designers, photographers, stylists, make-up artists, hairdressers and fellow models, who by means of their style, fascinating designs and original work, express their individuality.

Modelling is not just about posing during photoshoots and walking on a catwalk. There is much more to it. It is about understanding what the designer or photographer is trying to transmit and finding ways of how best to use facial expression and body language to deliver those emotions. During photoshoots I just get lost in the particular setting and theme. It feels like it is just me and the camera. A fashion show is then about making an outfit work even though the particular outfit may not really be your style. As soon as I’m given an outfit, I picture a person who is most suited to wear that piece and try to walk in their shoes with confidence.

Modelling also means getting to wear the latest fashion items, cool and original clothes which I would not usually wear, branded expensive clothes which do not really fall within my budget and finding out about new trends before they are even in shops. It also means having your hair and make-up done to perfection. In other words, it is about being all pampered.

On a personal level, modelling has helped me build up and boost my self-confidence. However, like everything else there is also a less positive side to modelling. Being a model also means being ready to accept all kind of criticism on how your body looks. And criticism does not always come in a constructive way. I had situations were I was bluntly told that I was not skinny enough or that my hip and thigh areas are just too big for modelling. Not only did these comments turn into a good life lesson which made me a stronger person, but they also gave me the fuel to aim higher and keep chasing my dreams. I also learnt to accept myself the way I am. This does not mean that I do not work hard to improve my image, but it only means that I now know my limits.

In addition to modelling, I have always enjoyed working out and eating healthy food. My love for fitness and nutrition was eventually amplified by modelling as I strongly believe that these go hand in hand. I work out almost every day and I like to vary my exercise routines so as to get the different and full benefits. Moreover by performing different exercises I avoid workouts becoming boring and tedious. My weekly workouts usually include circuit training at home, jogging, sprints, yoga and strength workouts at the gym. Keeping fit does not only help me look better but I also feel better. I find that working out is the best way to de-stress. It also helps fight fatigue and improves energy levels.

My regular workout routine is combined with a balanced diet. I really like reading about nutrition, cooking healthy food and experimenting with organic ingredients. Wholesome eating is very important for me as it ensures that my body gets the right nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber and beneficial fats, especially after an intensive workout.

An inevitable part of being a model is obviously taking care of how you look, especially keeping consistent body dimensions. Unfortunately, although it verbally promotes healthy eating, the fashion industry visually promotes catwalk models who are unhealthily thin. Due to this, many models tend to follow extreme diets or even starve themselves in order to get that super skinny look. These bad eating habits can eventually develop into serious eating disorders which have, in some cases, even led to death. Although, I admit that in the past I used to follow strict calorie-counting diets, I never wanted to look super skinny. By time I realised that being beautiful is looking healthy and keeping fit and thus I eat healthy, I work out and I let myself have a treat every now and then.

Obviously, leading such a busy lifestyle is not easy and it entails lots of sacrifices. At times, after a hard and stressful day at work, I am too tired to workout and to cook. However I motivate myself to do it by thinking of how good it feels after a good workout and a hearty meal, and it always does the job. Afterwards I feel satisfied, de-stressed and energised.

Nevertheless, the most difficult period in my life was during my ACCA studies. Like most of the ACCA students, I worked on a full-time basis while attending ACCA lectures and studying for the exams. Thus, I had to find ways to fit in modelling, working out and cooking. My daily routine included working out early in the morning, going to work, attending lectures and preparing meals in the evening. However, the most strenuous part was finding time to study, given that, I usually attended lectures on Saturdays too. Thankfully, Mazars Malta has been of great support during my studies by offering study leave over and above my usual leave.

But I am not a procrastinator and thus I never left all my studying for study leave. I used to study on days when I did not have lectures. Apart from that, I used to take notes with me to fashion shows, photoshoots and at the hairdresser and study during waiting time. Many may think that this is way too hectic and crazy and many times I get asked the same question: how do you manage to do all the things you do? The answer is very simple. I really believe that if one wants to do something than they will find time to do it. Having no time is just an excuse many use when they do not really want to do something. Clearly, effective time management and good planning is critical. Besides, I feel that I thrive under pressure but obviously if targets are achievable. As one would expect, I also manage to do all the things I do, thanks to the support and love of my family, my boyfriend and close friends, who go out of their way just to see me happy.

Additionally, modelling combined with a healthy lifestyle, helps me focus more during working hours. After all that is what work-life balance is all about – taking breaks from work so as to leave time for leisure and having a good night’s rest. We all know that meeting deadlines and dealing with everyday work issues is not really stress free but one would just need to find his/her own way to distress.

I just feel alive and fulfilled after a jam-packed day, tired yes, but satisfied. Leading a busy but balanced lifestyle is what makes me happy the most. I constantly remind myself that life is too short to be anything but happy and thus I choose to make the most of every second and to truly make it count!

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