We are passionate about achieving gender equality in the workplace and hope to inspire others to do the same. It important for women in male-dominated work environments to assert themselves, and highlight the accomplishments of women leaders in the company both internally and publicly. The more the organization applauds women’s achievements, the more women in the organization will believe they are supported and have legitimate opportunity to advance.
To further raise the profile of our women's group we have an Interview with Jangro's CEO Jo Gilliard, a member of CSSA.
Interview Jo Gilliard – CEO The Jangro Group
What was your first job and how old were you?
I started delivering morning papers at 12, I was up and out for 7am, seven days a week and loved it. My Father gave me pocket money but for me it wasn’t enough, and I liked the independence of having my own money and deciding how I wanted to spend it. My first full time job started 28th May 1984 and I was 16 years old, I started as Office Junior at Charles Turner’s & Company (Paper Manufacturers) and that was my introduction into the Cleaning and Hygiene industry.
When did you get your first promotion and what was it?
Charles Turner’s were very good to me and over the first two years I trained in all departments, covering Order Processing, Logistics, Export and Finance however I really found my calling when I was transferred to the Customer Service department at 18 years old and discovered I really enjoyed building relationships, helping customers and selling. The company decided to create a Telesales department which they asked me to head. However, I always felt my first big promotion was at 23 when I was promoted to Office Manager. This was quite a challenge for me as I was one of the youngest people in the company and was promoted over employees who had been with the company much longer than I had. The good news is it all went great and I still am close to several of the team from Charles Turner’s, who became lifelong friends.
Were you always ambitious?
I have always enjoyed working and I have been blessed that I have worked for some fantastic companies. I believe one of the best things I had on my side throughout my career is I knew the path I wanted to take, so I went for it. Many people just don’t know where they want to go, so their journey is harder. I have never really viewed myself as ambitious, I just have goals and have always worked hard to achieve them; that included going back to College and improving my education then going to University two evenings a week for four and half years to gain a first-class honours degree in Business Management. Hard work, personal drive and enthusiasm is how I would describe my journey, rather than ambitious.
Talk me through your career path?
Other than 18 months around my early twenties when I was an Estate Agent, I have spent my career in the Cleaning Industry. I worked at Charles Turner’s for 12 years and my final role with them was Sales/Office Manager. At 29, I joined Sashpoint Paper Convertors as Sales Manager and when our MD sold the business in 2002 and I was offered the role of Operations Manager at Jangro Ltd. In 2004 I became Operations Director for Jangro Ltd and in 2018 their CEO.
Did you have a mentor?
I have worked with several people over the years who have supported me, guided me and encouraged me. In every company I have worked for there have always been people I respected, admired and learned from. However, I think my biggest influence was my Dad; he was highly respected throughout his life and his mantra was to always be honest, straight talking and fair, so I just try and emulate him, and it hasn’t steered me wrong. Also, I am always eager to keep learning and growing as a person. They say, “you’re never too old” and it’s true. It’s good to listen to people’s views and opinions, to Network with likeminded people, to get involved in industry related events. I believe my career has been so rewarding because of the people I have met along the way and work with now at Jangro, I have many special people in my life because of my career path.
Did you find it difficult to progress in an industry dominated by men?
Not really, no. I worked hard, committed to each company I worked for and with a smile on my face I got on with the job. At several times in my career I have had challenges I have had to overcome: not having enough experience; not having the academic qualifications; having a broad Northern accent! I overcame these barriers to enable me to progress. I have always stayed true to myself, had confidence in my ability and presented myself as best I can.
Do you come across any negativity for being a woman in such a high-powered role?
I did laugh once when I walked into a meeting in Europe and they were clearly expecting a male named Joe as opposed to a female named Jo (short for Joanne)! I was with eleven mature men all looking slightly uncomfortable. It worked out fine in the end, the meeting was a success and good relationships were cemented.
Has anyone ever not taken you seriously because of your sex?
It has never entered my head that someone would ever think less of me because I am female. I appreciate that in years gone by this has been an issue. History tells us of some of the horrors women had to face but come on, it’s 2019 today I would hope that everyone accepts that many women have as much drive, determination and ability as a man.
9 Do you have any advice for women who want to progress their careers?
Have realistic goals and don’t be afraid to go and achieve them. Be adaptable and open minded. Be ethical… your reputation is everything ensure it is a good one. And enjoy what you do and get the balance right: work hard, play hard – my Mantra!