High Flyers: Keith counting on his determination not to fail

Keith Jess
Keith Jess Keith Jess

In the High flyers spotlight this week is Keith Jess, chairman of Progressive Building Society

What was your first job?

As a student I worked in a tin box factory, which was hard work but great fun, while my first permanent job was as a trainee chartered accountant. Since then, I have built my accountancy career and was recently appointed chair of Progressive Building Society.

What qualifications do you have?

I have an economics degree from Queen’s and I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

What do you attribute your success to?

In all honesty I believe that a determination not to fail and a personal drive to achieve goals have contributed greatly to my career. I have worked extremely hard in my various roles to make a difference and achieve all that I have set out to do.

How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?

I am very driven and enthusiastic, while wanting to bring out the best in people. I believe it’s important to nurture employees so that they perform to their best and continue to develop and progress.

Who do you look up to in business?

Entrepreneurs who have had the courage to back their own ideas and make a success of their business.

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

I really like to empower people, giving them ownership of projects and showing appreciation for their efforts.

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

We have some amazing people with superb skill sets but I would love to see people have more belief in themselves and confidence in their own abilities and skills. Then I would like to see that confidence used to sell themselves to the world.

What website or app could you not do without?

Probably WhatsApp.

What was the last book you read?

Ian Rankin – Doors Open from the Rebus Detective series.

What car do you drive?

Porsche Macan

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I still enjoy playing veterans hockey and recently played in the Masters World Cup in Tokyo with Ireland where we won silver medals

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

My major passion would be sport of all sorts, both watching and playing. I enjoy playing tennis, golf and hockey most weeks. I jog four or five days a week and really enjoy watching all sports live on TV, especially rugby. I love the outdoors and also really like to take long walks ideally beside the sea.