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Enterprising Women Case Study - Jo Jepson

CEO at Base 51, Nottingham

Case Study

Which organisation do you work for?

Base 51 is a youth charity, based in Nottingham city centre. We work with young people aged 11 to 25 who are typically facing various levels of deprivation and disadvantage. Our services include a counselling service, youth provision and specialist programmes such as Outburst for LGBT+ young people; Evolution Plus for victims of serious violence and knife crime; and Safe Space, working with those at risk of or affected by exploitation.

As CEO, I take on strategic leadership, supported by a team of operational managers. Much of my role is focused on service sustainability and development, and my day-to-day responsibilities also include finance, bid writing and working with our board of trustees in areas involving governance.

Why did you enrol onto the Women in Leadership course?

I felt this would be a great opportunity to grow my professional network of other female leaders in the East Midlands. I have completed various leadership courses and always find there is something else to learn, and continuous learning and development is vital to “keep up” with a changing environment.

What did the course involve?

The course was mostly held virtually, which worked really well for me as I can’t always commit the time away from the charity to just focus on my own development.

All sessions had some form of breakout space involving group work. I found this element hugely valuable as it also gives an opportunity to learn from others.

The content ranged from understanding yourself, through to understanding the environment, workplace culture, collaboration, coaching and leadership and strategic theories that underpinned the assignments.

How will the course support you in your job role?

The course helped me to contextualise the challenges of our charity – having the theoretical knowledge is a super useful tool, particularly when working on strategic plans.

When were you introduced to Enterprising Women and how have the other activities organised by the network supported you since?

Since becoming a member of the Chamber, I have received newsletters about various events. I have attended an Enterprising Women networking event, and it was great to meet new people as well as catch up with those I already knew. I heard about the training course via one of those emails.

I am now encouraging one of my managers to take up the opportunity to join a future cohort, as well as get involved in the events.

Why is it important to support aspiring female leaders in organisations and what role can dedicated learning and development programmes have?

I am a huge advocate of females coming together to learn, develop and support each other. Building a peer network can be invaluable to women who work in small businesses as it can be very lonely at times.

Dedicated programmes feel inclusive and relevant to your role. Taking the time out for your own development is a hugely underrated resource, and one that is often limited by financial barriers. Female leaders are usually supporting and developing others so it’s a refreshing change to have an opportunity to top up our own skills.