Jane Parry: Taking account of authenticity

By Ged Henderson

12 Dec 2023

Jane Parry

Jane Parry’s approach to leadership is simple. “Be authentic,” she advises.

Authenticity has certainly been at the heart of her approach as managing partner at Blackburn-based chartered accountancy firm PM+M.

It is a role she stepped down from in September after eight years in the hot-seat, ahead of her eventual retirement next April.

During that time she has overseen PM+M’s continued growth and has placed the importance of creating the right culture centre-stage in the firm’s development.

She says: “It is about creating that virtuous circle so that the people who are here feel respected and do a good job and we have happy clients.

“When I joined here in 2009 we were at the start of that journey. It was about explaining our values as individual partners, what we wanted the firm’s values to be.

“People have bought into that from day one and they have blossomed from there.”

Jane has a geography degree from Lancaster and began her accountancy career in Manchester in the 1980s in what was very much a male-orientated environment at the time.

She recalls: “It was particularly challenging when I had two young children. After my first child, with my husband working in London, I went down to three days a week temporarily.

“It wasn’t exactly said by my then firm, but it was made clear that I was parked and while working part-time my career was on hold. I wasn’t prepared to accept that so moved elsewhere.”

Handing over the reins to Helen Clayton, PM+M partner in the audit, accounting and advisory team, who has assumed the managing partner role, does she have any leadership advice?

“Leadership it is about finding what works for you,” she says. “It’s not trying to be anyone else.

It is also about building the right team around you and building the culture with those people.”

In her time at the helm PM+M has seen turnover more than double and today it has a team numbering almost 160 and is on track for a £12m turnover. Jane joined 14 years ago as tax partner.

Her career has taken her from her native Manchester to Preston before she arrived in east Lancashire.

Her departure from PM+M has, she explains, been carefully planned for some time. She says: “This is a partnership that has been going since 1919 and we do have regular discussions over succession.”

Looking at the firm’s development, she says: “You have to try and make sure it is the right sort of growth. We are not trying to be everything for everybody.

“We work with lots of owner-managed businesses and that means we can build relationships. It’s something we do across the firm.”

She adds: “We’ve got all the skills, great people and international links and can service these businesses really well.

“When it comes to family businesses it is about the passion they have for the business. For those family members coming through it is not just a job, it is a way of life. You have to remember that.”

During her career she has also seen the accountant’s role and focus changing from working with numbers to becoming a valuable business advisor. And she feels that’s important to keep in mind as the firm grows its apprenticeship scheme and looks to develop its own talent.

She says: “We are looking to grow people so they are no longer just working with computers but can sit with clients, listen to their issues and help them get through them.”

Looking back at her career and what brought her into the profession, she says: “I like helping people and solving problems and the fact you don’t know what you are going to do on any given day.”

Jane remains a strong ambassador for Lancashire. She says: “We have a massive manufacturing heritage in this area which has spun out into some really great innovations in tech and R&D.

“We are home to world-leading businesses. The key is making sure those businesses can continue to thrive and we keep upskilling young people to go into these success stories and become entrepreneurs in the future. Those links between business and education are really important.”

What of her own future? “I’m taking what I call my gap year,” she says. “I’ll be doing some travelling and then I’ll decide what to do next.

“I will definitely do something, I’m not very good at doing nothing, but it won’t be anything to do with tax. I’m still driven by making a difference.”

Enjoyed this? Read more from Ged Henderson

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