Putting the Good Back into Business with JW Associates

Jo Watson, Director of JW Associates NI and a champion of responsible business recently completed her Masters in Executive Leadership at Ulster University Business School and continues our Leaders in Business Series.

 What is your current role?

With over twenty-five years’ experience in the voluntary and private sectors I have built up a considerable portfolio of competencies in strategic planning, leadership, financial management, stakeholder management and fundraising for significant amounts both revenue and capital.

Having worked in senior roles for charities such as NICVA, Integrated Education Fund, Corrymeela Community, The Princes Trust, Simon Community and NSPCC I am a passionate supporter of charities and social enterprises.

Following on from successfully completing two programmes with Ulster University Business School, I have been inspired to start up my own business.

I am passionate about all things leadership, social economy and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) therefore my business aims to help organisations develop or integrate their CSR strategy with their business development opportunities, integrating them with business targets, corporate vision, leadership development, employee engagement and brand values.

My aim is to combine this with offering a wide range of services and innovative income strategies for charities and social enterprises.

“Working with such a mix of clients from private, community, arts and heritage sectors has been hugely satisfying.  To be able to share knowledge and knowhow to enable them to flourish and grow is the best job in the world”.

 What did you study at the Ulster University Business School?

I started with the Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Investment for the Third Sector, after I passed with the Distinction I was keen to start a degree.  I was encouraged to go for the Masters in Executive Leadership as a mature student without a primary degree. Without the encouragement of Senior Lecturer Janette Sheerman I would never have made the jump to Masters.  I am delighted to say I recently graduated with a Distinction, so she was right!

What attracted you to the Ulster University Business School?

Having experienced online and remote learning I was keen to have the benefit of a well renowned University course where I could study in a group on a part time basis that fitted around a busy life. Ulster University Business School exceeded my expectations of university learning on every level, namely the mix of relevant interesting masterclasses, action learning  expert guest speakers, site study visits and the peer to peer learning as part of a small cohort.

 What part of the courses do you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed so much of the course, but the highlight was the opportunity to undertake real research which provided me with the opportunity to test if there is a connection between leadership practice, business benefits and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Northern Ireland’s private sector.   My research went on to determine if CSR advocates had specific leadership qualities and traits versus the motivations of leaders who did not adopt CSR practices.  My research was made up of twenty-five business leaders representative of the NI economy.  The positive correlation between profits and responsible business was the catalyst to start my own business.

 How will this qualification help in your future career?

These qualifications did not just help in my future career but rather were instrumental in my decision to start my own business.  The ability to critically examine theory and practice and apply my own judgement is a life and business skill that is hugely helpful. The MSc in Executive Leadership included a visit to Boston College which gave me access to Professors at the forefront of Corporate Citizenship and responsible business which inspired me to bring this learning to Northern Ireland.

 Who do you admire most in the business world and why?

Sheryl Sandberg is an American technology executive, activist, and author. She is the chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org also known as the Lean In Foundation. I am inspired by her leadership style and have recently enjoyed her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.  I admire her willingness to admit her own failings and self-doubt and her positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity. She is an exceptional leader who is grounded, human and strives to make a positive difference.

If you would like to hear more about how you can “Shape your Future” with our Developing Managers Programme leading to the BSc Hons Management Practice or the MSc in Executive Leadership [contact Janette Sheerman [email protected] or 07793539280.

Jo Watson, Director of JW Associates NI and a champion of responsible business Contact [email protected]

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