Confident chameleon 

October 6, 2017

Lucy Batley, co-founder and creative director of digital and design agency JUMP in Newcastle, shares her insights on being a woman in business

Alongside the day job of managing a team of over 20 designers and developers, as a co-founder and creative director of digital and design agency, JUMP, Lucy Batley is also an ambassador for creative and digital for the Institute of Directors’ (IoD) regional committee and a board member of EcoNorth.

This year, JUMP, is celebrating its tenth anniversary and it recently moved into larger office space in Newcastle’s Milburn House, to accommodate ongoing growth.

Reflecting on the challenges faced by women in business, Lucy says: “Feminism, gender inequality in the workplace and how we find the equilibrium between the sexes, will always remain a hot topic. We have moved forward a great deal over the years, but the need for so many female-only led events, feminist campaigns, and discussions around pay inequality and the number of female leaders within the boardroom, show it’s still a burning issue.

“For me, however, the challenge I am trying to face head-on now is the lack of inner confidence that can sometimes restrict women from achieving their ambitions. Only 11 per cent of the creative industry are female leaders, and I believe that being confident in your right, ability and capacity to be a role model, a leader, and in a position where your voice can make a difference, is imperative to improving the success rate of aspiring female entrepreneurs.

“Things are changing now for the better, but it is important that the encouragement of more women in boardrooms keeps being pushed in every industry.”

Lucy adds: “Fear of the unknown, is another issue I believe can sometimes hold people back, but it’s how we overcome that fear which is important. I compare the feeling of setting up a business to diving into a huge pool – it is scary, but exhilarating at the same time. So many women feel they can’t do it for fear they won’t be very good. What’s the saying? Face the fear and do it anyway… We need to challenge society and the norm more. It is a cliché, but you really can achieve anything you set out to do, irrespective of gender. I believe that a lot of what women impose on themselves is within the mind. We need to break down the barriers and move on.” Discussing the notion that women have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to achieve the same success, Lucy accepts that has never been the case for her. With a supportive business partner in Robert Brown, all decisions regarding the future of JUMP are made jointly with shared ownership and equal responsibility.

Forthright in nature, Lucy admits that like everyone, she has had moments of self-doubt, but that with the support of strong female mentors, being adaptable and using her all-important gut instinct, have helped her make the decisions needed to move the business forward.

Lucy owes some of this success to her mentor of ten years, Jill Holst, owner of interior design and project management business, Ward Robinson, who has played a pivotal role in supporting her career.

Lucy says: “I always aspired to have a successful business, like Jill’s. It’s no lie that I very much wanted to be her when I grew up, so having her as a mentor has been invaluable. She is an incredible example of a strong, intelligent female leader who not only has a vast range of experience in her field, but has also been a great person to work with. She has helped me define a very clear focus for my business and given me the confidence to challenge the status quo.”

Having strong female leaders, however, started a lot earlier in Lucy’s childhood with her art teacher, Beryl Rankin. Rebellious and prepared to challenge the norm, Beryl’s approach inspired Lucy, giving her the confidence and belief in her ability as a graphic designer.

Being supported by such inspiring female leaders has come full circle, with Lucy herself playing a key role in the business community by helping others through her roles as ambassador for creative and digital for the Institute of Directors’ (IoD) regional committee and non-executive director role at EcoNorth. Through the IoD, Lucy has been able to help promote the regional creative sector across the UK, but also use her influence to encourage more women into design and tech roles, whilst retaining much-needed talent within the North East.

One of the only females on the EcoNorth board – an organisation offering ecological advice, surveys, planning support and land management services – Lucy will be using her design expertise to help them develop their brand nationally and internationally, in order to support their growth plans. Alongside mentoring and finding her own inner confidence, Lucy also believes that being adaptable has been an asset to her in business and likens this to being a chameleon.

She explains: “You have to be agile in business, adapting to briefs, clients and environments. I think women are very good at using their empathy, instinct and communication skills to understand and get the best from these situations. If I’m honest, I will often change my appearance to express myself depending on who it is I am meeting. I think a lot of us do this subconsciously to be more relatable to our audience and to create confidence in new situations.

Male or female, the key is being who we are, playing to our individual strengths, getting support where we need it, and not letting society’s preconceived notions of gender hold us back.