The President’s Award – Jo Jones

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The President’s Award was presented to Jo Jones on 24 June 2021 in recognition of her exemplary dedication as a member of staff and as a compelling symbol of cultural change at the IFoA. Jo exemplified Tip 13 of the President’s 61 Tips for Young Actuaries – Be the “go-to person” in your workplace. Use CADIF – Committed, Attention to Detail and Immediate Follow Up.

Could you tell us why you decided to join the IFoA?

I knew I wanted to work at the IFoA even after my first interview. The IFoA feels to me to be a progressive organisation and that I can contribute to its future.  I like the fact the organisation, as a whole, is relatively small so it’s a nice feeling of adding value rather than a feeling of being a small cog in a big wheel.

What made you want to be a personal assistant?

I fell into the role actually. I’d always wanted to run events so worked for wedding and conference venues; two of which were privately owned. Because of this, part of the job was to be the PA to the owners and run their private household, too. I completely enjoyed this and felt I had the best of both worlds. Much later I then went on to be a 24/7 PA managing the work and personal life of an eminent Scientist and Institute Director.  My role quickly evolved to become more like the Chief of Staff which brought me to my current role as Deputy Chief of Staff at IFoA.

You joined IFoA in April 2020 after the COVID-19 hit UK and the IFoA offices were closed since. How have you found the experience?

Starting at the IFoA remotely, not having met my colleagues, was and still is quite a surreal experience.  In some ways I have had to work much harder to build relationships and get buy-in from colleagues, in other ways, it’s made me feel embedded at the IFoA a lot quicker and I think more so as if I had been located in a physical office space.

What is the proudest piece of work you have done in IFoA?

Rolling out the purpose & values work back in March.  Cultural transformation is hard, made harder by not having met any colleagues – I was keen for the journey to start and am looking forward to seeing where we end up.

How do you find actuaries as a group?

I find working with actuaries the same way I used to feel when working with scientists.  Such an eclectic bunch of extraordinarily talented people – never a dull moment, I love it!

Can you tell us a story from your childhood which inspires you to be what you are today?

I was brought up by my mother, who was a single parent, who had a determination to keep going and a strong work ethic like no one else I’ve known – I think I am the same.  She taught me to be thankful for every opportunity that came my way, never challenging it but just accepting it and going for it.  I think my mantra of living in the present at every moment comes from that and sums me up quite nicely.

Can you tell us the biggest regret or mistake you have made, and what you learnt from it?

Years ago I tolerated some pretty bad behaviour from a boss so much so until it made me very unhappy.  I will never do that again and will always call out bad or undesirable behaviours. 

If there is one thing you like to see changed in the IFoA and the profession, what will that be?

I am so excited to be part of the IFoA cultural transformation journey, contributing and adding value to the organisation.

What motivates you today?

Pressure! Striving to be at the top of my game, all of the time, and staying there. Everything I tackle is done at full speed and to minute detail – I’m not sure I know how to work any differently.

Can you describe your CV in less than 100 word.

I am a professional administrator and love what I do – two career highlights:

1. Receiving the accolade of PA of the Year for the UK in 2017. These awards are the oldest and most established awards for administration professionals with nominations accepted from over 140 countries

2. Being asked to lead a government visit whereby the Prime Minister called for a roundtable discussion with my Director. This led to a frantic 72 hours working with her office and close protection team. Following this, I was asked by the Senior Close Protection Unit UK if I would consider running a training programme for their firearms officers – this I agreed to and subsequently ran two training courses for them.

Can you tell us something which is not widely known about you?

I used to dance professionally – ballroom and Latin American