March 6, 2023
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IWD: Practical tips from our CEO to build a successful career
Growing up in inner-city Birmingham in a working-class family, and leaving school at sixteen with few qualifications, isn’t a usual start in life for many CEOs. In 1981, Wendy Merricks began her career as an apprentice for a technology company, she was one of only a couple of women in the organisation and saw very few female role models across the industry. Women didn’t feature in many senior roles across the IT and technology industry and Wendy couldn’t understand why. It was this curiosity and injustice that drove a determination to break down barriers and excel in her career.
Working in a male-dominated environment, Wendy soon learned that she had to be competitive, regularly observing others and comparing herself to individuals (male and female) believing she could not only match the job they were doing, but also do it better. Wendy made herself available for social events and engagements, going out with the team to build further working relationships, learning from others, and increasing her confidence. With this, Wendy went on to climb the career ladder, successfully balancing senior roles with family life.
In 1999, whilst on maternity leave with her second son, Wendy realised there was a ceiling to her success due to continued outdated values across the industry. So, with a fierce determination to succeed she set up her own business without any loans or external financial backing and achieved a turnover of £1.2m in her first year. Wendy went on to grow her business, adding service lines across recruitment and digital services to create the thriving business that Jumar is today, with a culture that embraces equity, diversity and inclusion and gives all its people, but particularly women, the opportunity and resources to be successful in achieving their goals.
Having founded Jumar because she felt there wasn’t enough female representation at the senior level within the Technology and Recruitment sectors, Wendy is passionate about supporting, coaching and mentoring women to achieve. Wendy works closely with her teams at Jumar to encourage growth and is involved with work in the community including an active member of the Birmingham contingent of the Women’s President Association, an ongoing mentor to women, a member of the Female Entrepreneur Group (FEN) and Chair of the Midlands APSCo Forum, supporting women in recruitment and putting D&I on the agenda.
In celebration of International Women’s Day this week (8th March) and the theme #EmbraceEquity, Wendy shares that she is a firm believer that everyone brings different attributes to their work, and that the support they need to be successful needs to be tailored to them. Wendy has an ethos that everyone should be able to bring their “whole selves” to work, and champions a culture at Jumar that embraces equity, diversity and Inclusion.
Finally, it was never Wendy’s dream to become a CEO. Rather than focusing on large goals for the future, Wendy always focused on the next smaller goal, whether that be personal development or promotion. With this in mind, we asked Wendy what her practical tips would be for women wanting to build a successful career:
Self-reflection: It is important to consider how far you’ve come on your journey, remember to take time to reflect and recognise your achievements in your career so far.
Small goals: Focusing on huge goals can seem daunting to many, but setting small achievable goals can increase drive and determination to succeed.
Positive people: Surround yourself around these people as they are usually open to having conversations from which you learn, expand your knowledge and develop in your career.
Mentoring: There are many individuals in organisations who would be interested in being a mentor. Don’t be afraid to approach someone who you aspire to be like, in a role you aspire to do, or a person you can relate to in your journey.
Self-belief: If you believe in yourself, you are more likely to reach your goals and discover exciting opportunities in your career.