Amy Gilbert-Jeans on the left and Jo Fellows on the right
Amy Gilbert-Jeans on the left and Jo Fellows on the right

Today, 8 March, East Devon District Council (EDDC) is celebrating both International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month.

As an employer, EDDC is proud of its record of developing female leaders and wants to encourage more women to consider applying for vacancies at the council.

We interviewed two of our inspirational leaders, HR Manager, Jo Fellows, and Assistant Director of Housing, Amy Gilbert-Jeans to hear why International Women’s Day is important to them.

Amy said:

“It’s important to celebrate this day, as I think it’s about championing role models, particularly for young women. I’ve recently been involved in the Empowering Girls program, where I’ve been going into Cranbrook Educational Campus in East Devon and working with the Year 9 girls to think about their career choices and what they want to do when they leave school”

Amy’s advice to young women starting off in their career is to:

“Be determined. Be a little bit awkward (in a nice way!). Never lose self-belief… if you work hard enough and you channel all that energy in the right direction, then we can achieve absolutely anything”

Jo has a:

“Particular passion around young people’s employment, helping people recognise how they can use the skills developed in school and college in the workplace. I also want to sell the benefits of working in local government and what a good career it is. Seeing people develop and grow is a particular highlight of being a manager and also working in HR.”

Jo’s advice to women at the start of their career is to:

“Take every opportunity and be confident - even if you don’t feel confident. I used to work for the Local Government Association, which involved speaking at conferences in front of hundreds of people. I never would have imagined that I’d have been doing that kind of thing, as I was quite shy at school, and it really helped me to continue to develop and grow into other roles in local government. Taking opportunities that arise also helps you to make connections, which in turn helps you to learn and develop.”

Jo has drawn inspiration from the leadership of women throughout her career. Amy’s role models include strong women in her family, leaders in women’s rights internationally such as Malala Yousafzai and professionals such as Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, who worked her way from homelessness to the very top of her profession in the Public Sector.

Jo says that a positive of working in local government is its flexibility. Both Jo and Amy are proud to have balanced studying and time with their families alongside their senior management roles. Jo recently completed an MBA with the University of Exeter and Amy returned to University to complete her Housing Policy Degree whilst working full-time.

To find out more about careers with EDDC, visit our website