Interview with Jenny Patrickson, Managing Director, Active IQ: Part 1 An unconventional career path
In this first part of my interview with Jenny Patrickson, Managing Director, Active IQ I asked her about the career path she took to get to where she is today and what she has learned from it.
1. Tell us about your first entry level role, what was it and what did you learn from it?
My first entry level role came about following an initial career as a professional dancer, when I entered the fitness industry, first as a Group Exercise Instructor and realised within a short space of time that I needed to gain a relevant qualification in this area!
I then qualified in a range of vocational qualifications in exercise & fitness, whilst attending the University of Bath as a mature student to study health & exercise science. I also achieved an honours degree in adult education as a part time student whilst then working as a tutor, assessor and quality assurer for health related fitness courses in the training provider world. At the same time, I owned and ran a business, which included a wide range of community fitness programmes as well as selling small exercise equipment and clothing. Working for a large training provider, I was also involved in curriculum development, resource development and presenting (events and videos).
- Don’t be afraid to take risks – a conventional career pathway is not for everyone!
- In your new role, don’t be frightened to share your ideas or put yourself forward when opportunities arise.
- Never feel that you don’t have anything of value to offer because you will often bring a different perspective to a situation that someone else may not have considered.
- The best solutions and ideas usually come from collective thinking rather than individuals so always be prepared to speak up.
My key learnings:
A person’s career path is not necessarily straightforward or typical – for example, via university as a school leaver followed by a related first entry level role. Sometimes, career pathways are not obvious, but evolve in an organic way over a period of time.
2. What have been the major challenges you have overcome in your progression and success?
In the early days of training others to become fitness instructors, my career wasn’t always taken seriously by others. However, I was always passionate about the fact that teaching individuals to become fitness professionals had the ability to change lives – not only those that had started a career path in active leisure or who had changed careers to become a fitness instructor or personal training, but also the lives of all the people that those fitness professionals engaged with and influenced for the better.
strive for a healthy work/life balance otherwise you will simply ‘burn out’
Working full time whilst studying as mature student, whilst at the same time raising a family is the most obvious challenge that I’ve faced, and when I embarked on an MBA with the Open University to support my progression, I only completed the first year of it, achieving a Diploma in Management & Leadership, as the commitment to a further 2/3 years, whilst juggling work and family would have been too much – it is very important to remember to strive for a healthy work/life balance otherwise you will simply ‘burn out’.
Also, the career pathway within the sector I operate within was not obvious and apparent, therefore I had to forge my own progression route in order to succeed. I gave up teaching and moved into the world of awarding organisations as part of that journey. Within the first awarding organisation that I worked for, I progressed through a number of roles, including Regional Verifier, Lead Verifier, European Project Manager and Executive Director, before moving on to the role of Commercial Director with my current awarding organisation, and more recently Managing Director of that same organisation.
- I wouldn’t have progressed to be where I am today without being self-motivated and driven to succeed.
- Find an area of industry that you feel passionate about and you will find it easier to overcome challenges as your work will be important and meaningful to you.
My key learnings:
Don’t be afraid to change course where the need arises – whilst it may take you longer to get whether you’re going, you will still get there!
Questions asked by Jonathan Gallie, owner of Your Horizon.