Meet the Chartered Manager: The explorer
After pushing herself to the limits on an epic around-the-world expedition, Jenny McConnell felt driven to become chartered
Aged 21, Jenny McConnell became the youngest person to have crossed the globe by land. The journey involved driving east from London to New York as part of an international team of 40, going through Siberia and across the Bering Strait.
The adventure was life-changing, helping McConnell find new respect for the strength of the human spirit.
“The generosity of the people we met on our journey was amazing,” she says. “When you do an expedition of that scale, it changes your outlook – it makes you understand the human spirit more, and shows you just how important achieving a good work-life balance is.
“It has made me more empathetic as a manager and leader, and, hopefully, more emotionally intelligent, which is a critical aspect of leadership.”
She continued her adventures after the expedition, becoming a scuba-diving instructor and being commissioned as an officer in the Territorial Army at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
McConnell is no less determined in her professional life.
After 10 years as deputy head of South Eastern Regional College (SERC) in Bangor, Northern Ireland, she achieved Chartered Manager status. Today, she is the further education college’s lead consultant on leadership and management.
“I’ve always tried to be the best I can be in any situation, and that’s why I wanted to become a Chartered Manager,” she says. Chartered Manager status “epitomises the professional status of my career as a manager and a leader. I wanted that professional recognition, not just for myself, but also to demonstrate to others the importance of professionalism”.
Being Chartered gives you the stamp of professionalism, she says, “and, when you have that, you are automatically more professional in the work you do”.
When you professionalise a workforce, this has knock-on effects, says McConnell: you enhance the motivation of individuals and create “an edge to your business that shows that you’re a market leader”.
This ‘edge’ has helped SERC win new business and, vitally, help other businesses in Northern Ireland reach new levels of success.
“Having a number of Chartered Managers in our management team has upped the professionalism of the organisation, and helped us to professionalise the industry and assist economic growth in Northern Ireland,” says McConnell.
SERC is now looking to further support, and work more closely with, businesses. This, in turn, should encourage sustainable growth in Northern Ireland.
Much of this strategy depends on Chartered Manager status. “Having that Chartered status puts an extra stamp on that tender when pitching for new business,” McConnell says.
She hasn’t lost her adventurous streak and continues to push herself to the limits in marathons. But she admits: “Pushing yourself to be the very best at everything you do can
Find out more about McConnell’s journey to Chartered, including hearing from her in her own words, here #GetChartered