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Jo Stephenson

Female Founder Spotlight: Jo Stephenson

8 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Jo Stephenson
IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Jo Stephenson

Jo Stephenson began her career as a commercial trainee with The Dow Chemical Company in 1992 after graduating from UMIST with a First Class Honours BSC. in Textiles, Economics and Management. After 14 years of progressing her career across Europe in high-profile roles, Jo moved to LINPAC Group in 2011, where she held the role of Vice President Marketing & Innovation and achieved her Chartered Institute of Marketing Accreditation. She established B2B marketing and communications agency PHD Marketing  in 2014. Originally focusing on the packaging sector, the business now supports global clients across the packaging, print, life sciences and manufacturing sectors with a diverse team of copywriters, digital specialists and web developers. 

Jo is also a co-founder of Women In Packaging UK, an initiative designed to address the gender imbalance across the packaging sector, offering fresh perspectives and encouraging more women into the industry. She has also become a Director of the European Flexographic Industry Association – a key packaging printing technology trade association – as well as a non-Executive Director of Cornelius Group Plc, a speciality chemicals manufacturer and distributor.

What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?

“One of the most important things I’ve learned since founding PHD in 2014 is that while starting and growing a business can be difficult and full of tough decisions, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences there is. My advice to women looking to start their own business venture would be that culture comes first. We’re fortunate that every single member of the PHD team shares the same values that make our business so strong and really helps sharpen the identity of our business. By having our ideals woven into the fabric of PHD, we make sure that every single member of the team is living the values – it’s not just lip service. 

One of our key values is constant development and hunger for improvement. Seeing team members develop new skills, building in both experience and confidence, serves as a powerful reminder of why I founded the business initially – to offer that combination of quality, creativity and service that goes above expectations every time. It’s fantastic to see members of our team grow and follow them on their personal journey – it’s one of the aspects I’m most proud of as a founder.”

What are your 5 top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Start with the passion – always begin with the ‘why’ and your core purpose, goals and objectives will become clear. This also helps to set and solidify the culture of the business; a key part of your identity.

Understand your own value – Your most valuable asset is you – and it’s utterly unique! Invest in yourself, protect your personal brand and don’t allow others to determine your value.

Build a team that shares your vision – From a great accountancy and legal team in the early days of a business, to the core day-to-day team as your business grows, hire individuals that share your long term vision and values.

Embrace your mistakes – Always hold yourself to a high standard but accept that mistakes are part of the learning process; they’re invaluable for improving and sharpening our skills.

Know when to be fearless – Great business minds know there’s a time to be cautious and a time to make waves and disrupt the status quo – and how to tell difference. Change doesn’t always feel comfortable, but always trust your gut.

Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?

Maya Angelou– her story is incredible and her quote stays with Jo at all times. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Paula Birch – Global Sales Director, Parkside Flexibles Ltd – a successful woman operating in a man’s world who has worked her way up through business from the bottom to the top, to be who she is today, a wonderful business woman

Griselda Togobo – Founder of Forward Ladies – an amazing HSBC sponsored women’s networking and recognition group where she promotes women day in day out

Nadia Murad – winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize – again an amazing inspirational story surviving ISIS capture and becoming a spokesperson for the Yazidi people and front and centre of the human rights movement

Queen Elizabeth II – her tenacity, calm, faith and leadership are inspiration for all 

What is your favourite inspirational quote or phrase?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Jo Stephenson
IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Jo Stephenson

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