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Leadership Spotlight – Jade Collins, Technical Controller (Manufacturing & International)

Leadership Spotlight – Jade Collins, Technical Controller (Manufacturing & International)

With a background in trading standards, complemented with a degree in Forensic Investigation and Consumer Law, Jade is passionate about driving quality, compliance and efficiency. She loves working with her team (and clients) to find a solution that is a win for all – whether that’s dealing with simple day-to-day challenges or devising customer processes that deliver Ashbury’s services in a more appropriate manner that better meet their needs.

Here, Jade tells us about how her career began, as well as explaining how Ashbury is proud to be different.

Why did you choose the food industry?

“In a similar way to several of my peers, it was accidental that I ended up in this career. I wanted to be a forensic scientist and went looking for a degree that would support me into that path. The course that I settled on also had consumer law involved too. However, it turned out to be more consumer law focused as opposed to forensic science, but I used this degree to begin a career in Trading Standards, before moving to Ashbury in 2006.”

What’s one thing that you’ve learnt throughout your career that has played an important role in your progression?

“One of my colleagues at my very first job taught me the importance of saying no.

While it can feel like you’re letting people down or displaying a weakness, you can’t (and shouldn’t) say yes to everything. You can’t do it all, and no one should expect you to do it all. It’s vital to manage your own time, create (and maintain) your boundaries and manage other people’s expectations.”

Have you encountered any obstacles to pursuing a leadership role?

“In all honesty, I haven’t really had any obstacles to overcome.

One of the biggest differences between myself and many of my peers is that I don’t have children. And, on average, I’m around 10 years younger than my colleagues in a similar position, displaying that many of those women who chose to have a young family have had their career delayed by a decade.

In reality, this highlights one of the biggest obstacles that many professionals in this industry have: if they make an active choice to take a career break – whether to readjust work/life balance, take a sabbatical or have children, for example – progression is significantly stalled.”

What do Ashbury’s policies or working culture allow you (and/or your team) to achieve?

“I’ve recently supported a team member using our dedicated Menopause Policy. We made reasonable adjustments to the way in which she works, in line with the policy, and I hope it’s allowed her to feel empowered, understood and cared for. Plus, it has encouraged a number of conversations within our team, as we all endeavour to learn and better understand each other and remove potential obstacles or stigmas.”

Plus, Ashbury also offers a variety of other great initiatives, including part time hours, flexibility, remote working and the option to purchase up to five more days of annual leave.

While these can be invaluable to those with children, they also provide opportunity to engage in things you enjoy and encourage you to take care of yourself – whether it’s to enjoy an extra day off to do something you love, having the flexibility to attend an appointment without needing to take annual leave, or being at home for an important delivery.”

What advice would you give to young women?

“Don’t underestimate the importance of the start of your career – this is where you build the foundations to your success. Experience as much as you can: in different environments, settings and manufacturers within the industry. The better, deeper and broader this foundation, the greater your potential to progress.

But it’s hard and fast and tough. You’ve got to be resilient.”

Do you think the food industry appropriately caters for women?

“I don’t have to juggle childcare myself, but I’ve witnessed friends and colleagues who are returning to work full-time after having children. Despite having well paid roles, nursery costs have left them in significant debt.

Having to choose between staying at home or returning to work is a very difficult decision. With incentives including socialising, progression opportunities and having a sense of purpose (especially as the children grow), going back to work is certainly not the easy choice. And it doesn’t come without sacrifice – it’s likely to cost you financially, as well as limit the key life moments you’re around for.

While we’re making strides to make this transition much easier and more streamlined for our team at Ashbury, this isn’t necessarily the case sector-wide, meaning it can deter brilliant professionals choosing this career post-children.

In more recent years, I’ve also witnessed more men and women sharing maternity and paternity leave, highlighting the norms are shifting again. In my team however, we don’t have any males who opt for part-time working (I’ve only ever seen it when they’re winding down to retirement).

I think there’s still progress to be made industry-wide for parents looking to return to work, allowing the roles within the sector to accommodate the evolving world we live in, as well as encourage fantastic professionals into the career in the first place.”

Caitlin Stewart, Marketing Manager

My background in Food Science and Marketing means I have a unique combination of commercial creativity and technical food manufacturing experience. My ambition is to bring clarity to the complex world of compliance through the simple and eye-catching communication of Ashbury's services.

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