Jennie Willock on International Women's Day


To celebrate International Women’s Day, we sat down with our Executive Leadership Team to ask what embracing equity means to them.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role at Futures? 

My name is Jennie Willock and I’m the interim CEO here at Futures, and I’m also still doing my core role of CFO, so I’ve got two hats on at the moment!  

I’ve got overall responsibility for the strategic direction of the company, setting out that future vision, while also keeping one hand on our finances as we move forward. 

Can you give us a quick overview of your career journey so far? 

For someone who works in a careers organisation, I’ve never been one of those people to have a planned career path. I very much run along the ‘wing it and see’ perspective! I’ve been an accountant since pretty much day one of my career, which was a bit of an accidental finding, and I’ve worked in a number of industries. 

I’ve worked in Education, both public sector and private sector, and then took some interesting detours into high-value Manufacturing, in aerospace and the nuclear industry, and then did a few consultancy projects before coming back to my educational home at Futures. 

How does it feel for you to be a woman in leadership? 

I think it’s very interesting. I’ve spent a lot of my career in very male-dominated industries – technology, aerospace, nuclear, high-value manufacturing – and I grew up working in the motor industry. Quite often I’ve been the sole female in the room, so it’s been really interesting to represent that different style, and I think it’s been an achievement for me to get where I am. 

Women are quite under-represented at the C-suite so having sat in both the CEO and CFO seat is quite an achievement – especially being sat in them at the same time!  

What changes do you hope to see in the future for women to continue being successful in leadership positions? 

I think confidence. For a lot of women, imposter syndrome is a big issue and it’s something I’ve wrestled with in my own career. A fellow ELT colleague said to me recently that the difference between men and women is that if a man is capable of doing 30-40% of a role, they’ll think ‘I can probably still do that’, whereas a woman might be capable of doing 80-90% to do a role and think ‘no, I can’t.’  

So, I think it’s a lot about building that self-confidence, building networks, and not being afraid to take a risk. I think that’s the real bit – don't be afraid to take a risk and take a leap of faith. 

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Embracing Equity – what does that mean to you? 

It’s everybody having the same opportunities. One of the biggest barriers to women succeeding in their careers and achieving that career progression is access to affordable childcare, and that is a real barrier that we need to break through to encourage women back into the workforce. 

And on the flip side of that, it’s the inequality between maternity leave and paternity leave. If they were treated equally, a lot more men would take on the responsibilities of childcare in those early days. For women to have those equal opportunities, that childcare piece really needs to evolve and reflect how we are today as a society.