Jo T’s 3 Minute Interview
Brief introduction, name and job title
Jo T, Inclusive Play’s Business Manager – I’m thrilled to be working in the play industry and most especially because our company focuses on provision for children of all ages and abilities.
When you were at school, what did you want to be and why?
Honestly, I was keen to leave school as soon as possible and just get out into the working world. At 17, I didn’t appreciate conformity or feeling like my creative side was being squashed (I still don’t which is why I love the diversity of my job so much!) I chose not to pursue a University path and instead have worked my way up by sheer graft and learning from more experienced people.
How did you get to be where you are today?
My first job at 18 was with a high fashion house. My boss (and mentor) Lynn took me under her wing, teaching me everything she knew about managing a retail business. I was like a sponge and made a point of soaking up everything across all areas of the business.
Lynn taught me the value of working hard, having pride in your outputs and how to provide the best customer service. She was skillful at blending both the creative and business aspects of herself and seeing this, I went on to a successful career in luxury jewellery for several years with a move to London being the highlight. Lynn sadly passed away a few years ago but I hope she would be proud of what I have achieved.
What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?
For the last 8 years, I have worked in this wonderful industry of play and once again have been able to blend my creative side and business skills. Working with communities and our partners to create a fully inclusive playground is incredibly rewarding; there is nothing quite like seeing the enjoyment on little faces when they’re playing in a new park or on our equipment. Working in inclusion, we see all too often children with disabilities being excluded from play – our team is so passionate about breaking down these barriers, the difference this can make to families’ lives and childhood development is immense.
What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?
My mentor told me to always be calm and professional in all business dealings – we are all human and this isn’t always easy but that advice has served me well throughout my career, especially in any tough situations. Also, don’t feel like any task is beneath you; get stuck in across all areas of your business – having appreciation for your colleagues’ work and lending a hand can really strengthen your team.
Favourite Inclusive Play site and why?
I absolutely love The Level in Brighton. It’s a beautiful example of where other features such as planting, seating, boulders and a natural boardwalk have been incorporated to elevate the sensory aspects of the space. The need for quiet zones in play areas cannot be overstated; for some children with autism or sensory processing disorders, somewhere that offers respite from busy, over stimulating play is often essential.
Favourite Inclusive Play Product and why?
Our IP12 Wheelspin Roundabout is a fantastic addition for any playground; it is fully inclusive for all ages and abilities, fits larger power assisted wheelchairs, is flush to the ground for ease of access, is easy to maintain with a grease hatch and most importantly, offers dynamic play opportunities that are often lacking in play spaces for children with disabilities.
What is your greatest achievement?
Moving to Rome to teach English with no job or apartment lined up and just a few words of Italian – within a month I had completed my CELTA course, found a place to live, secured a job with a good language school and started learning Italian. It was the scariest and most brilliant time of my life. I ended up living there for 2 years. Determination, a sense of adventure and good coffee can carry you a long way!
You can contact Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org