International Women’s Day: A Q&A with our Asset and Compliance Manager Jo AndrewDate: 08/03/2021
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to Jo Andrew our Asset and Compliance Manager. She tells us all about her 31-year career at Staffs Housing, how she challenges gender stereotypes in her career and advice for any woman looking to start their career.
Q: When did your career begin at Staffs Housing?
As a kid I wanted to be a hotel receptionist. But that was probably down to watching too many episodes of Crossroads!
It was the dream of being a receptionist combined with the fact that the company I was working for were relocating that brought me to Staffs Housing 31 years ago. I applied for a job as receptionist and was later interviewed by the CEO. He was so impressed with me, he asked me to choose one of two jobs right there and then!
I joined as Development and Maintenance Admin Assistant and didn’t look back. I was the youngest person in the business at the time and all these years later I’m still here!
I’ve had quite a few roles since then, and I now know most parts of the business like the back of my hand. I’ve been everything from Housing Admin Assistant, Team Leader to my current role as an Asset and Compliance Manager.
Over the years I’ve worked with some great people. I’ve had some incredible mentors, particularly earlier on in my career, which put me in good stead. I learnt quickly to never be afraid to ask, after all it’s impossible to know everything.
I’m so proud of my career. I've loved every second and shared memories with some wonderful people. Staffs Housing’s blood well and truly runs through my veins.
Jo with work friends at the Honeycomb Group rebrand event.
Q: The theme of this year’s International Women’s day is all around challenging gender stereotypes. How do you feel you’ve challenged gender stereotypes throughout your career?
I think I’ve been what you might call a woman working in a ‘man’s world’. Dealing with contractors, builders and maintenance workers. But I challenged stereotypes by not letting it phase me and just got on with the job at hand.
I work to a high standard to get the very best outcome for our customers. So, over the years I’ve dealt with my fair share of confrontation. I’ve been able to stand my ground, challenge where necessary and compromise when needed. And I found people respected me for that.
In today’s world I think gender shouldn’t have to define what type of role you can do. It certainly doesn’t here at Staffs Housing. We have both male and female leaders, administrators and cleaners to name a few. They all do an amazing job regardless of their gender.
Q: What advice do you have for young women at the beginning of their career?
I think women are a lot savvier than when I started my career in 1985. But I would say to believe in yourself, trust your instincts and use your voice for good.
Try not to see work as a place that just pays the bills. Treat it as a career and lap up all the opportunities that come your way.
I wish someone had given me that advice because from a young age I was encouraged to leave school and get a job, rather than to leave school and find a career. Which I found so contradictory because it was called careers advice!
It was only when I found my confidence that I saw my job as a career. I was being trusted to make decisions, speak my mind and use my voice and I loved it.
Jo with colleagues at Staffs Housing's head office in 2013.
Q: What is a favourite memory of your career?
Apart from seeing the Queen at the Bradeley Village open event, it has to be the work we’ve done recently.
As a team, we created a process in CAPITA that meets our business needs. It was a steep learning curve, but we did it properly. Taking the time we needed to understand the software capability, how it worked and what it could do for us.
I’m proud of myself and my team for this. It shows that with willpower and the right people behind you, you can do anything you set your mind to.
The Queen visiting Bradeley Village in 1995.
Q: What is your favourite achievement outside of your career?
This has to be my children. I’m so incredibly proud of them. I have two boys one 20 and one 12. I had both while working at Staffs Housing and during the last 11 years I’ve brought them up on my own.
My eldest Alfie was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and I was determined not to pigeonhole him. He was going to have the same opportunities as everyone else. So, when he told me he was going to Chester University to study archaeology and history I was so proud!