Jayne Thistlewood is a highly experienced individual, in fact so experienced that when she sits down and tells us her background, the ream of letters after her name last for quite a while! Jayne is currently a partner in R&R Safety Systems Ltd, a Health and Safety Training and Consultancy Company. The centre is accredited to provide examinations in IOSH, NEBOSH, CIEH and Fire Safety (See, those where the letters we were talking about!) and
Jayne became a partner in the company in April 2014 alongside Dave Fanning who as an ex fire fighters brings the fire specialism to the company in the form of Fire Risk Assessments and also his passion with Fire Safety Training from his Fire Brigade Training Centre Role.
Jayne’s background is as a Health & Safety Executive which she worked as for 18 years, calling herself; ‘Civil Service through and through’, she then took a career break to have children and when she returned found it difficult to travel with work and moved to an Online Risk Management Company where she was for 12 years.
‘Then the opportunity came about 18 months ago for me to make a career change. I was hot-desking from R&R Safety System’s offices and there was a retiring partner. It was then that they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse so I bought into the company. I took a massive gamble, resigning from my well-paid job, but it’s definitely paid off!’
Going from working in large organisations and being supported with holiday pay and a steady monthly income, to becoming the boss of a company is a big change but Jayne says; ‘When the opportunity came about, I did jump at it. Everything was pointing in the right direction and it felt right, although I must admit that I was nervous. I’d worked for the Civil Service for 18 years, had a career break to raise a family and then gone into another job where I was managed and had company and staff around me. So to actually take that step into self-employment and be responsible for paying bills, paying staff and managing reports and finance, was quite difficult.’
Although luckily Jayne seems to be a natural at it, citing her strengths as her social skills and abilities, enjoying working closely with her clients and the different activities that each day can bring, as the partner of the company. ‘I love the fact that one minute I can have my hard hat and high-vis jacket on, and I’m onsite and the next minute I can be invigilating an exam or running training. One day is never the same, and I can plan my diary which is great.’
And Jayne has already making big plans for the future of R&R, looking to introduce e-learning into the company. She has a background in Online Risk Management so introduced an online learning perspective to her clients and to new contacts that she has worked on making. ‘I’ve worked closely with schools and written a programme of training, where I go into the schools and speak to Year 11’s or Sixth Form students who are about to go out and do Work Experience. I’ll speak to them about their roles and responsibilities in the workplace, their rights and what they are entitled to from employers.’
Jayne is passionate about making people understand that their own safety is not someone else’s responsibility and she says; ‘You do have a voice, you can positively engage, actively question and challenge unsafe practices.’ And by going into schools she is hoping to engage young people early on, and make them see if everybody works and acts safely then it can have a big effect. She is currently working with four of the biggest schools in Merseyside and two junior schools also.
From someone so experienced you might be thinking what help did she gain from The Women’s Organisation? Jayne met Ali McGrath, our Enterprise Enabler and John Jones, Senior Business Adviser many years ago when she was on Maternity Leave and we were called; Train 2000. At that point, Jayne had a wildly different business idea; she wanted to start a sweet shop! But this didn’t come to fruition as she had another child and later went back to work. Then about 12 months ago Jayne attended a networking event and met Ali again, both remembering each other and striking up a rapport again. ‘She said that she always knew I would do something on my own, and it was then that I came to The Women’s Organisation for some help and support when I bought into R&R. And it’s been great, the information and the help that I’ve had, has been great! John chatted with me on the accountancy side of things and Ali is very motivational.’
Looking back on the journey and transition that she has made, Jayne feels proud of herself and so she should do! ‘I’m a firm believer in that I never say no to anything. I did take that gamble and my friends and family thought I was crazy. I was on a good salary, had a nice car and was comfortable, and I walked away from it all, but now I sleep better at night. I can manage my own diary and I’m able to see direct results. When things happen, I can say to myself – well done. It’s nice to know that you are making a difference, we help people with that we do, and we have a relationship, and at the end of it they come back and say thank you…’
Before meeting Jayne we might have been guilty of considering Health and Safety as something of a dry topic, but when we got the chance to meet and talk to her, we were happy to be proved wrong! Her passion, enthusiasm and love for her job and the sector that she works in was catching and we found ourselves becoming enthused about all the things that she is passionate about.
But she says; ‘There are still very few females in this male dominated sector although we are becoming more and more. It’s had its moments in the past, where I’ve gone to meetings and been seen as the PA or Receptionist, and it’s only when I’ve taken my place at the front to start the meeting or presentation, you see everyone’s eyes in the room change. But I’m confident in what I’m doing, and I know that the guidance I’m giving is competent and effective, I can’t help how other people feel about it.’
Jayne is clearly a woman who knows where her strengths and weaknesses lie and works with them every step of the way. The future looks great for R&R Safety Systems Ltd and with the work that Jayne is doing, we know it will grow and grow…