Women in business #DrivenWomen #EmbraceEquity

Women in business #DrivenWomen #EmbraceEquity

Nov 17, 2023

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we recognise the outstanding achievements of women and promote gender equality.

Today, we are taking a glimpse into the world of one of our exceptional female leaders, Jackie Simpson.  With her unwavering commitment and dedication, Jackie is a valuable asset to our business. At Its4Women 60% of our staff members are female, as are 60% of our team leaders and managers.  We hope to inspire women to reach their full potential and to excel in their careers and chosen life path.  Collectively we aim to build a more inclusive society.

Firstly, can you tell us your name, your current role and any previous positions you’ve held in Its4Women.
I’m Jackie Simpson and I’m Head of Finance at Its4Women.  I joined the company when it was a family run brokerage, as an Accounts Assistant. My role was to do the company and insurer accounts along with the salaries and some HR.  Back then we had three offices employing 15 people. One person could run the department. It was very different from what it is today.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I knew I wanted to do accounts.  I was doing my accountancy exams when I was made redundant. I subsequently accepted a job with Its4Women and I’ve never looked back. 

What inspired you to get into this particular area of work?
I enjoyed mathematics and business subjects at school, and then opted to study Business and Finance.  I really enjoyed the accounts element of my studies and knew that’s what I wanted to do.  With several companies in the Group, in my current role every day is different, and I love that.  The drive to remain at the forefront of the industry means that there are constantly projects in development which makes work interesting and challenging. 

What has been your biggest achievement to date?
When I first started working with the company it was a brokerage. Over the years it has grown and developed into a Group encompassing a series of successful companies.  I’m delighted to have been part of the Group’s growth.  There have been a lot of big achievements throughout. We developed our own back-office system and subsequently created similar solutions for other insurers, and we established our own direct debit system and again created similar solutions for other companies.  I have progressed from Accounts Assistant to Head of Finance for the Group.  I have also raised two sons and I’m extremely proud that they have both pursued careers in accounts. One is a qualified management accountant and the other a chartered tax advisor.

How has the world of business changed since the start of your career at Its4Women?
When I first started digital communication did not exist. Cover notes were issued manually, and transactions were by cheque or cash.  Now we are digital.  As one of the first companies to issue our own cover notes and policies when Covid-19 hit, we rapidly adjusted to remote working, with no customer disruption.  We then opted to go paperless and continued with the hybrid remote working model post lockdown. Today, we employ over 100 staff and have three offices, two in Coleraine and one in Dublin.  We successfully navigated Brexit and Covid-19 challenges and we are stronger as a result.  As a business, we are constantly looking to the future, exploring how we can improve our processes to enhance the services we provide to customers.

Have you ever had the opportunity to carry out any coaching/mentoring?
Over the years I have trained many staff and enjoyed seeing them progress.  My colleague Lisa started working with the Group when she was 16 years old and moved up through the ranks to oversee the direct debit and insurer accounts team.  Lisa has been integral to the development of our Direct Debit System and keeps the department running like clockwork.  Similarly, Hannah who works alongside me, progressed through the company, starting in the call centre before moving to insurer accounts. Hannah is key to the day-to-day running of the Group.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out?
Take your time and choose what you want to do with the rest of your life.  You do not have to go to university to get to where you want to be. There are plenty of other routes, so pick the right one for you.  Always ask questions if you are not sure. It is better to ask than do something completely wrong.  You learn from others so don’t be scared to speak up.

If there's one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self, what would it be?
Travel before you settle down with a mortgage and family.  Enjoy life, you only get one chance at it and laugh lots!

What is your favorite quote?

And last, but not least, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love going to live events, whether it’s a concert or comedian. I’m also a fan of rugby - Ireland and Ulster. I really like travelling and enjoy cooking for family and friends, with a glass of good red wine.