Q&A for International Women’s Day 2018 with Jo Gilbey, BDO

Author Amy Thomas
March 6, 2018

Brewer Morris is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2018. We have interviewed a selection of our female clients asking them how they are pressing forward for women’s gender parity #pressforprogress

Brewer Morris interviewed Jo Gilbey, Tax Partner, BDO

Past Progress

If you could tell your younger self one thing what would it be and why?
It is relationships that matter in every aspect of your life – there is nothing more important, so time spent in nurturing close relationships will help family, friends and career.

What action or decision are you most proud of making in your lifetime?
My pivotal moment came in my early twenties, after years of travelling and with no job, when I took the decision to stop and build, leading to a college course and my first professional qualification. I learned a love of learning which has stayed with me.

Describe one of your failures. What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
I went to University but forgot why I was there. A year later I had some great memories, mostly of travelling and climbing – and an invitation to leave! Years later, reflections on this time taught me about focus and the value of hard work, lessons I’ve never forgotten.

If you had to start your career from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would have been less independent and taken more advice. I now understand the strength of networks, the power of teams and the real value which diversity of opinion brings but my 24 year old tried to do it all herself.

Present Progress

Of the people that inspire you, what character traits do they have which you admire?
Calmness with passion. Focus and drive delivered with kindness and good manners. Generosity of spirit.

If I were to ask people in your workplace for three adjectives that best describe you, what would they say?
Strategic, focused, good to work with.

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
I rarely do anything I don’t enjoy, in or out of work, and so motivation isn’t a problem. But I have a great team who support me as much as I support them and seeing them develop and progress is a fabulous motivator.

If you were to be a mentor to someone within your profession, what one piece of advice would you give?
Be authentic to your own personality and ambition. You’re unique and that’s why we value you. Trying to conform to someone else’s norm will dilute you.

What is your personal mantra?
Be brave. Have an epitaph which reads “she lived.”

Future Progress

How is gender parity being achieved in your profession and what do you think needs to be done to press for progress?
We’re working at gender parity at all levels including our early career entrants, our support teams and practice managers, our managers, directors and partners. We’ve listened to many people across our practice to understand views and challenges. We’re continuing to work on learning and development opportunities, ensuring unconscious bias is eliminated in appraisal and progression discussions and internal and external mentoring.

What would you say the top three skills are needed in order to be successful in your industry?
Professional services are built on relationships so building relationships through understanding our clients’ businesses and concerns is key. The ability to communicate what we mean, first time, is paramount. And creating solid, collegiate, technically excellent teams is essential so that our people are supported and encouraged to be the best they can be.

What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?
I’m always conscious of standing on a ladder that others have built, particularly women who’ve driven equality in the workplace. My legacy should be putting another rung on that ladder through mentoring of women at all levels.

At the recent Golden Globes, Oprah delivered a moving speech which led to people talking about her running for president. If you had the choice to recommend a leader, who would it be and why?
We grow stronger through adversity and challenge. My choice of leader would be someone who has been tested and showed their strength through this. So, without pinning this down to a single person, and using Oprah’s words, someone who has failed, retreated, persevered and overcome but who has the ability to hope for a brighter morning, however dark the night.