Q&A with Tracey Jackson

Tracey Jackson is a career professional in the fenestration industry. For over 20 years Tracey has been working her way up the ladder in a male-dominated sector. Since becoming a senior member of staff in her current place of work Tracey has begun giving back, mentoring young professionals in order to help them in their own careers.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your career:

I started work at 15, for a Builders Merchants, on an apprenticeship (Youth Training Scheme as it was then known), level 3 in office administration. The office environment was very manual, with a team manually raising customer invoices and imputing to a centralised mainframe. By the time I left 2 years later, I was setting up and balancing all their tills, solely responsible for updating customer files and uploading to the mainframe. I then moved to a commercial kitchen fit out company, where I moved through the ranks to share a role running the servicing department, coordinating a team of direct and indirect fixers. I would have stayed longer than 5 years had I not started a family, but in those days your employer didn’t have to offer part-time or job share work.
I left it after 12 months and then joined the family fenestration business, where my job role has changed so dramatically over years, it would make your head spin! I started as a PA the managing director, but quickly moved into contracts support and then estimating for a new line that we introduced, U profiled glazing, this involved also attending site and some contract management. When we started a second company, I then oversaw that set of accounts, which was back to my roots.
6 years ago we undertook a government-backed growth accelerator program, where I joined the management team formally and we undertook a role reshuffle. I became head of marketing (now business development), but in reality, undertook several other roles too (as is done in a small business – SME). Our new team saw turnover increase by 50% in 2 years and profits skyrocket.
More recently, I have diversified again, I have joined my sister, financial controller for the business, and have taken our corporate social responsibility to new heights. Together we are now enterprise advisors, helping schools meet their Gatsby 8 benchmarks for student/work interactions, for young chamber AND careers and enterprise company and One Million Mentors. All this from a chance meeting at an awards ceremony last year! If that’s not all I became the first UK champion supporter for the charity Building our Skills in November and our company an industry supporter and now up for UK role model for UK construction week.

What’s great about being a female in your role?

This is a very male-dominated industry, knowing that everyone is unique, and recognising our individual differences is key. The turning point for me is when I truly understood that to get on in this world I don’t need to become a man, I can be myself and have something to say.

What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?

Helping others…. I REALLY enjoy the work that I have done for young people. I’m not denying that it has been challenging in some cases, but all in all a real feel-good moment, especially with my mentee this year. He has risen higher than he thought and has such ambition, I’m really excited to see his journey unfold!

What advice would you give to young females starting their careers?

Life will not progress in a straight line, just because you start in one position that does not mean that is your path for the rest of your life. Roll with it and enjoy the ride. If times get hard, remember that they will not stay that way forever.
Ask why more often.
Listen carefully (they say listen with 2 ears and one mouth). Watch what others are doing and saying and take note.
There will be opportunities that come along that you may NOT feel ready for, but really what’s the worst that can happen? Take a chance on yourself…..

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

Undertake qualifications in leadership. I am completing a CMI operations and Departmental manager level 5 course, this is the current in a long line of others over the years. With this knowledge, you will have the skill to be able to manage change and change cultures… just remember it’s not a race. Change takes time and tenacity.

Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

My sister, she works with me and pushes me to be the best version of myself. Without her I may not have stepped out of my comfort zone and become a mentor. That would have been a massive missed opportunity
If you enjoyed reading about Tracey and how she worked her way up in the Construction industry, you’ll love reading about Katie Kelleher.

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