BW Legal Women in Business – Suzanne Jones

In this third article in our series celebrating women in business, our Projects Team Leader talks to us about her role at BW Legal and how she got to where she is today.

Tell us about you and your role at BW Legal

I’m the Projects Team Leader within the IT department. My job is all about solving problems and improving processes. I manage a team of 4 business analysts who run 1-2 projects each at any one time. Outside of work I’m a Mum of a nearly 3 year old and when I get any free time I like to practice Taekwondo or sew quilts and clothes on my sewing machine.

How did you get to where you are today and who helped you along the way?

When I started my career I had the opportunity to move around every couple of years within the same company so I got a broad range of experience and I started to understand what makes businesses tick. I worked for some great managers as well as some poor ones and I copied what worked well and made sure not to repeat the mistakes I saw.

Being a naturally organised person helped and equally I had a couple of managers take a chance on me which I made the most of.

What advice has stayed with you throughout your career?

  • You can’t train enthusiasm
  • I’d regret a lost opportunity much more than taking a risk that didn’t work out
  • If you make a promise to someone make sure you keep it

Is there anything you still struggle with and how do you overcome it?

Surprisingly I’m not great at the details, which is a bit unusual for a project manager. I can miss things if I’m not careful particularly when I’m working on several things at once. I overcome this by writing down any actions I need to take as soon as I know about them and regularly review my projects to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

What have you learned about the importance of leadership and getting the best out of others?

You don’t have to be managing people to be a leader. People perform best when they have ownership of a problem as well as support so they don’t feel they’re going out on a limb to solve it.

How do you achieve a good work life balance?

I have a pretty clear separation between work and home. When I leave the office I try not to think about work (unless there’s an urgent issue). I try to make sure I’ve had at least an hour in the week when I can switch my brain off either through sport or doing some sewing so I get a mental break.

What advice would you give to women wanting to achieve more in their career?

Have a really clear idea about what role you want in the future, then take every opportunity to learn the skills you need to do that role and demonstrate your capabilities at the next level whenever you can.

If a chance comes along to take a leadership role then volunteer yourself for it (even if it’s something like organising a team social) and learn what you can about being a leader. The best leadership training I ever had was from organising a free event with volunteers (setting up my local parkrun). You get to know what motivates people very quickly when they’re offering their time for free.

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