Interviewing Women in Agile: Jo James
09 March 2020
Posted by: Abi Walker
To Celebrate International Women's Day, which was on Sunday 8 March, throughout the month of March, the Consortium will have been interviewing key women in the Agile Community.
In this interview, we have Jo James. Jo started working for the Chamber 30 years ago, 12 hours a week as a typist and is now the Chief Executive of one of the largest Chambers of Commerce in South East. The highlight of Jo’s career was receiving an OBE in 2019 for services to the economy of Kent.
Jo, can you tell us a bit about what you do?
As Chief Executive of the Kent Invicta Chamber my role is multifaceted. Firstly, as the Chamber is a not for profit organisation and not publicly funded, I run a small business with a turnover of £1.5m which employs 28 staff. My role is setting strategy, giving direction and ensuring objectives are met and we are financially sustainable. A growing part of my role is shaping economic strategy at a local; county and national level, this involves working with local/county authorities; MP’s and Ministers. The tricky part of my job is the anticipating future needs of business and ensuring that Chamber is providing the services needed to support business.
Do you have a female role model who has inspired you over your career?
I would like to say yes, there has been a female role model who has helped me shape my career, but sadly that has not been the case. I have been very fortunate to have worked for a few male Chief Executives who have encouraged and supported me to develop and given me the opportunities. I do feel very fortunate as my main inspiration over the years has come from my own family, who have both encouraged and support me.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting in your industry?
Don’t try and be someone you are not, be true to yourself. Have confidence in your abilities, if you don’t have confidence in yourself, why would anyone else have confidence in you. If you don’t know, then ask – not knowing and asking for help is a strength and not a weakness. Finally, remember there is more to life than work!
What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received?
Do whatever it takes to get the job done. Yes, the job needs to be done but don’t sell your soul to the devil just to achieve.
What is one thing that has mattered the most in your career?
Ensuring that I work to live and not live to work! I have always put in 100% but never forgotten that I have a family at home.
What is the biggest mistake you have made at work?
Taking a picture from the internet and using it on flyer. I thought it was a harmless thing to do, soon changed my mind when I got a bill from a copy-write lawyer!
How do you empower other women?
I do try and work with Schools/Colleges & Universities to talk to them about careers options to widen their horizons. I have mentored several women who have either set up a new business or have taken on a senior role for the first time. Again, like everything else, I’m limited in what I can do, there are only so many hours in a day.
Would you like to be interviewed by the Agile Business Consortium? Email our Head of Content, Abi Walker, to find out how you can get your message out to our community - Abi@agilebusiness.org