Financially fashionable: Jeanette Wong CA
Jeanette Wong CA, Finance and Planning Director at Charlotte Olympia, has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion. She caught up with Eleanor O'Neill during London Fashion Week to talk about what it's like to be a CA in fashion and working in an evolving company.
After qualifying as a CA with EY, Jeanette spent two years at smoothie makers Innocent Drinks as a Marketing, Innovation & Supply Chain Finance Manager.
Since then, she has held senior roles at luxury designer names like Burberry, Jimmy Choo and now Charlotte Olympia, a young brand enjoying a growing international retail presence
The designer accessories company debuted at the February 2016 London Fashion Week (LFW) and is famous for the Black Kitty Flats worn by the likes of Alexa Chung, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.
Charlotte Olympia presented a new show at the current LFW on Sunday (18 September) to critical acclaim.
What attracted you to your current role?
Charlotte Olympia is a highly regarded young and entrepreneurial luxury brand with a playful and feminine aesthetic that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Having the opportunity to join the business at this stage was incredibly appealing to me; to be able to influence strategic decisions and help drive the business forward.
How did you find moving from a large brand to a younger, more entrepreneurial one?
It was an incredibly exciting career move for me. Jimmy Choo is a fantastic place to work and I was fortunate to work with some of the first people to join the brand.
They used to tell me about how things were when the business was a lot smaller and the journey they had been on since. I found myself wishing that I had joined at a similar time. To look back and see a company grow like that is something to be very proud of.
At Charlotte Olympia I am delighted to be involved at this stage of its journey, and look forward to seeing how the company evolves.
Which part of your job are you most passionate about?
Helping drive growth in the business, whether it be through providing information that promotes better decision making or implementing a new incentive scheme to drive performance.
I think it’s very important to work in partnership with all other departments of the business. Finance should not sit in silo behind a sea of spreadsheets and invoices but be a clear voice at the table. I also enjoy managing a team and seeing people develop, which is incredibly rewarding.
In what ways is working in the fashion industry different to other sectors?
Everyone is passionate about the brand, which makes fashion a really fun and dynamic environment to work in.
By its very nature, it is a very fast paced and creative environment. People are flexible and willing to adapt quickly, which means new ideas are always welcome and there is less bureaucracy in terms of getting something done.
How has the CA qualification benefited your career?
Quite simply, it opens doors. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a number of well-known British brands in the fast-moving consumer goods and luxury retail arena including Innocent Drinks, Burberry and Jimmy Choo.
The CA qualification has equipped me with a financial and commercial acumen that I have applied in all my roles to date, from ensuring there is a strong control environment to providing sound business advice to help the company reach its strategic goals.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of all my career history, but am optimistic the best is yet to come!
I am constantly resetting my goals to challenge myself as much as possible, even if it means stepping outside my comfort zone.
Who has been your inspiration?
My mother has been a fantastic inspiration to me. She didn’t go to college, but when I was 10 she decided to start a career from scratch.
She went from being a data entry temp for a major international investment bank to one of their leadership team through sheer hard work. I’ve learnt from her that hard work really does pay off.
I remember, when I was fresh out of university, asking her to give me an internship at the bank to get a head start. She point blank refused and said I had to find my own way, but I’m very glad I did.
Now that I’m a mother, I am also inspired by my own daughter. I want her to be proud of me too.
Sum up your own personal style in five words.
My own personal style is to be collaborative, honest, efficient, flexible and well-dressed!