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Being a CEO Can Be a Lonely Place


jenny hollowayWe are now signing off accounts for year 11 and I look back and I can’t believe that 11 years of my life has gone by.  During this time my three boys are now 23, 22 and 18 and I have that awful pang of do I really have a work life balance (no, of course I don’t); have I really been a good mother?

(Jenny Holloway pictured right)

“With the family I hope so because I have to tell myself its not quantity of time but quality of time. We are a close-knit family and I met my long-suffering husband Tim when I was 15. I love him, as much today as I did when I met him at the local youth club where I swear I believe in “love at first sight”! We have three children; Tom who is now a Royal Marine, Callum who has a teaching job in Loughborough as a Hockey Coach and Zac has just finished his BTEC level 3 – we are close and of course I love my family.   

“Life is a constant juggle both home life and at work. Monday’s are now WTM days – ‘Weekly Team Meetings’ where I meet with each team: Factory, Fashion Studio, Education and then Marketing and Events. My head whirls but I so respect and admire the team that we have – it motivates me.

“I try to always keep positive – not always easy and of course it’s not a perfect life and in business things go wrong. I never now moan about being contacted at weekends as its just part of job. The mantle of a person is when “things” do go wrong how does that person deal with the issue.  Is it woe is me nothing goes right, or is it OK we have a problem Huston here’s one way we can tackle it.

“I know I have my supporters and I certainly have people in the industry that find me difficult, why? Because I challenge what I really believe is wrong and rather than being divisive, unprofessional and lacking in business integrity, I will go straight to that source and question findings.

“I find that it’s so disappointing that people can’t embrace questioning or constructive criticism and then you are just chopped out of the “in-group”. However so be it!  I would rather look at myself in the mirror and think yes my spirit level is level!  As my father would say “if you haven’t got your word in life you’ve got nothing.” He was right.  I can’t abide politics or companies chasing pots of money to sustain their business when they really do not have a clue about how that strand of funding works in an industrial setting. Such as life, time will tell eventually.

“So to all those budding CEO’s out there – yes, it’s lonely, and yes it’s such hard work but find your spirit level and keep your bubble aligned!  I have paced around my bedroom at 2am in the morning on occasions.  I have seriously thought in the middle of night that Fashion Enter would not last out the week. The fear of telling our wonderful staff, many of whom are single parents and from a migrant background has propelled me to find new avenues of working.  

“I have had to call up our wonderful suppliers and ask for support and they did not disappoint. I won’t forget this ever. I have called meetings with clients and told 100% the truth and they didn’t disappoint either. 

chris north permira“There is, however, one man that is my mentor and he is such a wonderful support that I have to mention him personally. Thanks to winning the Social Business Trust Award I was fortunate enough to meet Chris North from Permira (pictured left). Permira is a leading international investment firm, and a founding partner of Social Business Trust. 

“Over the last three-years Chris, once a month for 1.5 hours, listens to me prattle on about issues, opportunities, financial aspects – everything. I know I am not easy but he has guided me with his words of wisdom, support and extensive financial knowledge that gave me the confidence in myself to carry on!

“So Chris North, this is a huge thank-you for all you have done for me as an individual, and in turn the company. At the age of 55 I have grown up but still acknowledge I have a way to go yet! I understand balance sheets and cash flows and I know I had mental blocks in this area. You have made me a much richer and deeper CEO and I am so, so grateful for your time. Fashion Enter’s end of year 11 trading figures show that our turnover is up 26 % up on the year to almost £3.2m and our surplus has gown over ten fold in one year.  Chris thank you for your wisdom and your fortitude, unfortunately for you I am now a lifelong fan of Chris North, Principal at Permira!”  


Related Articles:

Fashion Enter & Jenny Holloway Win Social Enterprise Award

Fashion Enter at Fashion SVP

Fashion Enter Wins The Manufacturer Top 100 Award



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