Sector: Business and Administration
After falling pregnant at 19, during her second year of college, Jill Weeks didn’t let that get in the way of her study and career ambitions. She’s now an executive PA at Teesside University.
Where do you call home?
Brotton – never forget your roots.
Tell us about your role?
My role is an executive PA at Teesside University. I am also a mentee for the girls’ network.
How did you get to where you are today?
I started my career journey as an administrative trainee with Cleveland County Council. This involved hands-on experience in a busy office environment while attending day release at college, working towards business, finance and administrative qualifications. I secured a permanent position once I had completed the three year training course.
I achieved a promotion route to Middlesbrough Council to work in the HR and Payroll department as an office administrator. From there, I worked my way from administration duties into a secretarial role working for the director of MIMA.
I left the council to become co-owner of a restaurant in the North Yorkshire Moors. After a couple of years, I missed my secretarial role, so I went back to work for the council on a part-time basis, working for the director of regeneration while also running the restaurant business.
When I first started employment with the council, my ambition was to work for the mayor as he was the most important and influential person and I wanted to work for him! My dreams came true through hard work, grit and determination I was noticed for my work ethics and was asked to work for the mayor. This was one of the most exciting times in my career. I left the restaurant business to pursue my career at the council.
I had achieved my ambition, so what now? I applied and gained promotion as an executive PA at Teesside University, working for the pro-vice chancellor in the international department. An opportunity became available to work for the pro vice-chancellor of enterprise and business engagement. My background is working with business, so that is where I am today.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
During my second year at college, I fell pregnant. I was 19 years old with end of year exams ahead of me and a third year of my course to complete. Due to a very supportive family and then to be husband, I passed my exams and was able to carry on with my studies, as well as becoming a new mum/wife and pursing my career. And the moral of the story? Don’t give up!
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
I always remember during an appraisal early in my career, my line manager asked me where I wanted to be in five years’ time. I told her I wanted to work for the mayor, but she told me I was crazy and why would I want to do that? I guess she did me a favour really, as I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. If achieving your ambition is crazy, then go for it!
Do you have any advice to aspiring young females?
Believe in yourself – if you want it, go get it! Hard work really does pay off. And if you get a few setbacks along the way, work through them – they make you who you are today.
Confidence grows with experience; we all have to start somewhere. And never forget who helped you along the way. Be kind, respectful and thoughtful of others – you may need them again one day.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I always kick myself for not continuing with my studies to gain a business degree. But I guess it’s never too late!
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Knowledge is power.
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