An informal chat with Jo Bolton, Head of Corporate Services at Bellrock Property & Facilities Management:
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Bellrock wants to shine a light on some of our amazing female employees at Bellrock and the challenges they have overcome in their careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
At Bellrock, we believe in equal opportunities for everyone and gender inequality is an issue that is close to our hearts. The fight against gender inequality is one that is a long way from being won but we know that by leading the way and challenging how people think, we can make significant progress.
What is your current role?
Head of Corporate Services within the Commercial Portfolio. Having only recently joined Bellrock back in November 2020, I work alongside Greg Robinson to support the delivery of 25+ contracts in a portfolio that is fast-growing, which is obviously very positive in the current climate.
What is your professional background/education?
The majority of my career, almost 30 years, was spent at Rolls-Royce. My background is in corporate and client services. I originally started working for the Managing Director which was a great introduction to really understanding the business and also building long-term relationships globally which was invaluable as I progressed through the organisation. After that, I had many varied management roles across many areas of the business and all were external customer-facing, with many internal stakeholders at all levels of the organisation. I also have experience in contract and supplier management, strategy deployment and change management. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to visit America, Singapore, Norway and Germany during my time at Rolls-Royce which was really interesting. More recently I worked at EMCOR UK as an Account Director which again was client-facing and joined Bellrock back in November 2020 and the rest is yet to come. I left College with A-Levels, choosing not to go to University, and the rest of my training/education was achieved with my time at Rolls-Royce.
What does your role entail?
This role involves supporting and enabling a team of talented Account Managers to deliver their client commitments and to help them develop strong client relationships and to grow the business. Having worked client-side for so many years, I instinctively see things through the eyes of a client which I find very useful when delivering a service.
Why did you choose this career path?
Simply because I enjoy delivering results, meeting, and exceeding client expectations, growing a business, building strong relationships and supporting and enabling a team to be successful.
Have you encountered any challenges in your career?
Not generally from other people. I think my biggest challenge has been a personal one in accepting that you don’t have to be a subject matter expert in order to lead, you just have to be good at asking the right questions and making informed decisions with the input of subject matter experts.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
A couple of things really, firstly client engagement involving developing a relationship, understanding their needs and seeing their expectations met in the first instance and ultimately exceeded. Secondly, working with a group of people who are passionate about what they do and who genuinely care about their clients and Contracts. One of the things I have noticed since joining the team is their drive to deliver and, more importantly, help one another to deliver.
How, in your experience, does Bellrock encourage gender equality in the company?
Although I am relatively new to Bellrock, what I can say is that from the people that I am currently working with, I don’t feel that gender is disproportionate. I would say that it is probably an equal split across the Commercial Account Management portfolio and across the wider Bellrock team there are some key senior female individuals that I regularly interact with including Debbie Quinn, Val Miller and Annette Best who, as you know, has been recently promoted to Managing Director of the Commercial Portfolio.
In your opinion, why is it important that more women join the facilities management sector?
I don’t think it’s specifically important just across the facilities management sector but rather across all sectors as achieving a greater gender balance across the workforce can provide employers with a more diverse talent pool, which in turn will lead to a wide range of different skills that support innovative thinking and enhances decision making. Also having a balance ensures that a company’s workforce is representative of its client base and can also provide better knowledge on areas of consumer preference.
Have you witnessed any prejudice about women in the facilities management industry?
Not personally but that may be down to how I approach things. In that, I always do my best to positively engage with people in all areas and at all levels of an organisation as we should ultimately all be working towards the same end goal. Communication and open and honest dialogue is key and can often break down barriers.
Who is your biggest role model?
My dad because he has absolute integrity, an incredible work ethic, is always supportive, will help anyone, is well-liked by everyone who meets him and is one of the most genuine people I know. He has always encouraged me to “have a go” at whatever it is I want to do. His view is you should always try even if it doesn’t work out. Whenever I moan about a situation, he will just say that “if you’re not happy with something, don’t moan about it, change it” and I tend to live my life by this ethos.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Have confidence and believe in yourself and whatever direction you want to go in, take a chance, you may be surprised by the result. Be true to yourself and always operate with integrity. Also, identify a mentor and coach to support you on your career journey as they are invaluable when the going gets tough.