Jo is the University’s Director of Marketing and Communications and was also a judge for our January 2020 Sprint women development programme.
How did you come to work at the University of Hertfordshire?
Having spent almost 20 years working for Banks and other financial institutions, I really wanted to work for an organisation whose values and purpose I could whole-heatedly buy into. I was born and grew up in Hertfordshire, and left to go to University when I was 18, not returning until 20 years later, but it’s a place I feel very connected to so when my current role vacancy came up, it felt right to apply, and I love it here.
What is your greatest achievement?
It would be easy to say my two children. I feel it’s such an achievement getting to a place where I feel I can balance my role as a mother and my professional career. However, I also look back on my early thirties, when I decided to take an 18-month career break and travel the world, as an achievement. I left a great job, but with the intention of spending the 18-months conquering my fears and developing my independence. Key highlights were trekking to Everest Base Camp, overcoming my fear of nature by camping in the Amazon for a week and jumping out of a plane! I came back into the working world with great confidence and secured my first Marketing Director post at the age of 34.
Has there been anyone who has been a significant support in this achievement?
I’ve had some amazing role models and mentors in my life. In my twenties I lived and worked in The Netherlands for six years and had an incredible boss, an American man, who allowed me to explore my interests and develop my skills across a range of jobs. He encouraged me to always be inquisitive and curious and to embrace failure as a learning opportunity. His advice has always stayed with me, and I probably wouldn’t have taken a career break or applied to work at the University without his early influence. I can’t say all my managers have been so supportive, but you can learn just as much from those! Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive and inspiring boss now!
Are there any women in your life who have been a role model? If yes who and why?
Honestly, I would say it’s my mother. She grew up on a Hackney estate, left school at 15 to work and got married and had children. However, in her forties decided to educate herself and did her A-levels and then went to University to study to become a Psychotherapist. This took 10 years! All whilst working and looking after two children. Her thirst for learning and developing herself has always inspired me and she has always encouraged me to believe I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
What impressed you about the sprint development programme?
I was actually blown away by my time spent with the women on this program. The space they are given to explore their identity, develop their self-belief and learn skills that will help them move forward is amazing. Not only that, but the connections they make on that program and the bond they form as a group will provide ongoing support as their finish their studies and begin their careers.