100 for 100 Series: Debbie Janssen | Wates

100 for 100 Series: Debbie Janssen

“Don’t take no for an answer. Believe anything is possible.”

Equality of opportunity for everyone is essential for businesses to thrive. For 2019 International Woman’s Day,  Debbie Janssen shares what #balanceforbetter means to her.

Introduce yourself for us

I am Debbie Janssen, Assistant Company Secretary of the Wates Group.

How long have you been in your current role?

I joined Wates 12 years ago and although I am still in the same role, the growth of the Business means that the job I do now is much more diverse and I never know what challenges I am going to be involved in next.

What brought you to Wates?

I had been working as an assistant to an entrepreneur and philanthropist with similar ambitions and values to Wates.  The opportunity to use my skills in a large organisation and to make a real difference to the communities in which Wates was working was a strong pull.

What advice would you give to women entering the industry?

Don’t take no for an answer and believe anything is possible.

Who are your role models?

Gladys Aylward, a British Christian Missionary who in 1932 spend her life’s savings on a perilous train passage across Siberia to China to achieve her ambition of working with orphaned children.  She is most famous for leading 100 orphans to safety across the Chinese mountains to escape invading Japanese forces.  She worked tirelessly to change ingrained attitudes that led to the abolition of the long held tradition of foot binding and helped to bring much needed reform to the then brutal Chinese prison system.  She showed great determination in achieving her goals and standing for what she believed in.  She was 4ft 10in tall.

Tell us something unusual about you   

I have a 78 year old mother who runs 8 miles every Sunday, does Zumba twice a week, aerobics once a week and line dances.  I am told that is pretty unusual.

What changes would you like to see in 100 years time?

No longer having conversations about gender, ethnicity or disability, but about accepting people for who they are and the contribution they make to society.