Hard work and desire to improve key for first female chair of CMI in the north

Gemma Jordan
Gemma Jordan

THIS week's High Flyer is Gemma Jordan, senior relationship manager at Ulster Bank and the the first ever female chair of the Chartered Management Institute in Northern Ireland.

What was your first job?

When I was 15 I worked in an ice cream shop for six hours on a Saturday at £2.50 an hour. I usually had my pay spent before I made it home.

What qualifications do you have?

I received a first class honours degree in Sociology & Economics from Queens and then trained to become a chartered accountant, qualifying in 2011.

Continuous professional development is really important to me and it’s also heavily promoted by Ulster Bank so I am always ‘sharpening the saw’. At the moment, I am participating in an Ulster Bank pilot scheme to gain a diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership with Chartered Management Institute and eventually become a chartered manager. I am also completing a diploma in lending skills with Chartered Banker Institute as part of my new role, senior relationship manager.

What do you attribute to your success?

I would say there are three key elements:

The team – having a team of people working together, supporting each other and sharing best practice provides the motivation and determination for everyone to succeed together.

Hard work - there are no short cuts. I like that saying: the harder I work the luckier I get.

Great leaders - leadership is recognised in Ulster Bank as having the single biggest impact on performance and I have had the privilege of working for some fantastic leaders that have given me the skills, support and confidence to push myself further than I thought possible.

How would you describe yourself next to someone you have never met?

I am focused and I get stuff done, but I like a bit of banter along the way.

Who do you look up to in business?

I admire many different leaders, but I recently read about the late founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad and I really admire his knowledge of his customers and commitment to his core values.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

I work with so many very talented people and I aim to make sure that people feel valued and are aware of the trust and respect I have for them. Communication and support are really important too - ensuring we are all clear on goals and realistic about expectations and that mutual respect is demonstrated.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

I would inject more confidence into the business community. We have a highly skilled workforce in Northern Ireland thanks to our great education system, and we are global leaders in key sectors of our economy. If we dared to think bigger then I’m sure we could be even stronger.

What website could you not live without?

I am a shopaholic so Shopstyle and eBay are practically worn out on my phone.

What is your greatest passion outside work and family?

Box sets! I have an unbelievable ability to binge watch TV. I enhanced this skill on maternity leave when I watched 13 seasons of Greys Anatomy back to back. I was convinced I could perform brain surgery by the end of it.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?

Never be afraid to ask if you want to do something, the worst you will hear is no.

What is your career highlight so far?

Being the first female chair of the NI Regional Board for Chartered Management Institute is something I am really proud of.

What was your last book you read?

After the kids go to bed I’ve been enjoying reading Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek.

If you could swap jobs with someone for the day, who would it be and why?

Donald Trump –I think I could do a better job than him. I think most could.

Have you any unfulfilled ambitions?

I would love to be considered as a role model for young women who want to aim high, smash those glass ceilings and work to change mind sets to achieve goals. I am still working on this myself, but making good progress so I hope it’s an ambition that I can fulfil.