One Young CA Insights: Jonny Jacobs CA
Eleanor O’Neill speaks to 2017 One Young CA Jonny Jacobs about how the award strengthened his commitment to leading change for the future.
Soon after being named One Young CA, Jonny was asked to go to New York to take on the role of interim CFO, which he regards as a highly rewarding experience.
“I was walking into a completely new team, in a high change and growth environment, with only a defined 16-week period to make an impact. Interim roles are fraught with challenges and, in many cases, it can be difficult to come out the other end with a real sense of achievement,” he explained.
The experience was fruitful for both the business and Jonny, and he returned to the UK to take up his current position of Strategy and Transformation Director for pladis UK & Ireland.
For me, it's about being in a place where I can be the best version of myself and contribute in the best way to the people around me.
“It has been an incredible opportunity to drive positive change and consider what needs to be on the agenda for the future,” he said. “At the moment we are working on how we bring our core purpose ('bringing happiness to the world with every bite') to life, which as you can imagine is pretty fun and motivating.
"We've got a huge drive and ambition to keep developing the business, and for me, it's about being in a place where I can be the best version of myself and contribute in the best way to the people around me.”
As well as leading on the business side, Jonny is spearheading the pladis Mental Health & Wellbeing agenda and living his principle of contributing to a wider agenda outside of your day-to-day role.
“I’m a great believer in operating outside your space, and chasing experiences beyond the job spec. When pladis signed the MIND Time to Change Mental Health pledge, I volunteered to get involved. We have a truly incredible team working to create the right environment to have those important conversations, and you can feel the momentum building.”
Jonny is also part of the Trustee Board of Aspire and became an Advisory Board Member for Mad World at the end of 2018.
“The combination of your skills as a CA and pursuing a purpose in the wider agenda can deliver incredible results. We can take the lead and be ambassadors for change - that's why I'm Proud to be a CA.”
The leaders I saw in Colombia inspired me to define my own style of effective leadership. My biggest learning is actually the importance of looking forward.
Leadership was a key theme of Jonny’s experience at the 2017 One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia.
“The political, social and economic past of Colombia made it the perfect location for One Young World. Not only to reflect on the past but also to discuss and plan how best to tackle today’s most pressing global issues,” he said.
“We weren't short of leaders to learn from: from the infectious smile of Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, to the gritty but polished Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the leaders I saw in Colombia inspired me to define my own style of effective leadership.
“My biggest learning, looking back, is actually the importance of looking forward,” he concluded. “I’ve experienced more than I could have imagined and I believe that our profession can also keep evolving and learning.
Spend your time planning how you want to contribute and then have the confidence to just go for it.
“I still consider the Summit to be my defining moment as One Young CA and it’s a week of my life I will not forget any time soon.”
When it comes to advice for young CAs, Jonny is encouraging purpose to be the driving force.
“My one piece of advice to the next One Young CA – or any Young CA for that matter - is to think carefully about what you want to stand for. This is a big opportunity and responsibility that gives you visibility within ICAS and the professional world.
“Spend your time planning how you want to contribute and then have the confidence to just go for it.”