IWD 2021: Choose to Challenge with JBP

Julie Williams, our Operations Director, spoke to us about stepping outside of our comfort zones, taking every opportunity, and sharing our mistake and successes with each other.

In honour of International Women’s Day 2021, we have been speaking to the women in our organisation who are at different points in their careers, lives, and across different roles, to discuss the ways in which they #ChooseToChallenge the status quo every day.

Could you tell us a little bit of what got you to where you are today

I initially joined JBP back in 1998 as a junior administrator. At the time I was also studying marketing at college in the evenings.  After 18 months with the business, I moved on to a publishing agency as a marketing assistant, and then a financial planning and accountancy practise.

In 2004, JBP approached me and invited me back to join the team.  Since returning to the business, I progressed from an administrator to the Personal Assistant of JBP’s Founder Director for a number of years, before going on maternity leave to have my first child. 

I then returned on a part time basis and supported our finance manager.  I also spent time with our accountant and her team learning the financial side of the business.  The role developed and in 2017 I was promoted to Operations Director. In this role I’m responsible for the finance, HR and Operations. In 2019 I became a Board Director of JBP.

What challenges did you face or overcome to get where you are today and have you encountered any obstacles that are specific to being a woman?

My biggest challenge throughout my career has definitely been juggling childcare: feeling guilty when I’m working and not with my children, but also feeling guilty when I’m with my children and not working!

Having to temporarily put my career on hold whilst being on maternity leave twice was initially frustrating because my new role had to be adapted when I returned on a part time basis, but equally it provided opportunities to learn other parts of the business when support was required there. 

After returning from my second period of maternity leave, I took on the role of finance administrator, which was brand new and quite daunting, but looking back, if I hadn’t been given this opportunity, I wouldn’t be in the role that I am in today.

What are the three most important things that you’ve done, or that you are doing, that contributed to your success?

Work hard, celebrate success, and learn from mistakes – we all make them!

Mistakes are a great way to help improve skills and knowledge as you move forward in the future. It’s all about picking yourself up again and making sure you keep moving.

And, of course, working together and celebrating together as a team – A thriving business is down to the success of the team not just one individual, and it’s so vital to support each other and share achievements.

What (moment or achievement) are you most proud of?

Probably being asked to become a Board Director. When I joined JBP, I was 18 and it was one of my first jobs out of college. I was shy, nervous and quite frankly the Board scared me! When I now look back on the experiences that I have shared at the company and the knowledge of the business that I have developed, I am extremely proud of what I have achieved, and to be a part of the Board of Directors for JBP.

Outside of work, the achievements that I’m most proud of are having my two beautiful daughters and also running the London Marathon in 2019.

Looking back, what piece of advice do you have for your younger self?

My advice would be to take every opportunity given, even when it is outside of your comfort zone. It might not always work out and you might make mistakes along the way, but unless you try, you’ll never know what other skills and experiences that you can achieve.


Julie Williams Operations Director

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