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Jess Heagren - Expert Spotlight

What is your role now since leaving corporate life?

I am a mother of four, award-winning CEO and founder of Careers After Babies,  author of landmark report Careers After Babies and ex Strategy & Distribution Director for DLG. I’m leading the movement to create a world-class cohort of employers of working parents that inspire the next generation of companies and parents, enabling work and family to happily co-exist. I also offer Strategy and Business Change consultancy services to the insurance industry. 

How long have you been an expert of Camelot? 

I joined Camelot in August 2022 when I was looking to re-engage with the insurance world. I love what Camelot stands for and the positive influence we have together. It’s such a powerful group of individuals with so much knowledge and experience and I totally believe in the Camelot tagline of connection “releasing potential”.

Have you been a panel expert on any Road Tests? 

I’ve loved the Insurtech Clinics since I’ve joined - I think the expertise those organisations gain is golden! I wish I would of had access to something similar when I set up my own business many years ago. I’ve also been instrumental in setting up Camelot for Insurtech and can’t wait to see the positive impact this brings to the insurance industry. We’ve been meeting so many innovative organsiations who have the power to really drive change. 

Are you a leader or a member of a Camelot Special Interest Group? 

The insurance industry loses so much talent by not changing and adapting to social changes. 

This is getting worse as we attract less talent and when we do, we let it go too easily. I lead the Inclusive Leader series for Camelot. It aligns perfectly with my own personal mission to keep parents in the workplace, as it’s a point in time where we lose so much talent. Our aim with the Inclusive Leader is to bring inclusive thinking to every people leader by showcasing examples of amazing leaders and how they inspire the best from people by being inclusive. I think that the topics of Diversity, Inclusivity and Equality have become scary to many people so they have been switched off. It means that those of us advocating for change often find ourselves talking to the same groups of people. I believe that every individual has a responsibility to be inclusive not just for our colleagues but for our customers. We’re better for customers, better for shareholders and better for people when we are inclusive leaders 

Area of expertise:-

  • Inclusive culture and leadership

  • Strategy, change and transformation

Highest/proudest most recognisable previous role?

I launched the Diversity and Inclusion committee for Direct Line Group leading the Working Family and Gender strand alongside my day job. I re-launched the Commercial strategy including transitioning business to eTrading, launched Churchill Business Insurance on to price comparison websites and acquired an agricultural business…amongst other things! It was a very busy but enthralling time!

How long have you been doing this subject/area?

I have always been in strategy and transformation in some capacity from my placement whilst I was doing my degree twenty years ago through to my C-Suite role, which I fell out of 8 years ago after having children. I’ve been lucky enough to combine internal change with external client work throughout my career, recognising the importance of our customers in everything a business does. That thread of change and excellence has continued through to what I do now, which is changing businesses to be more inclusive, ultimately resulting in them keeping their best talent and serving their customers in the best way possible. Now I get to change the landscape for my four children making sure they enter the world of work that brings the best out of them - and not cause them stress and burnout!

What is your company name?  

Careers After Babies

Do you have a website? 

What is your LinkedIn profile URL? 

Please can you provide some examples of recent projects/professional high point that you’ve worked on?

In 2023 I published the Careers after Babies report, which went viral. The report found that most women want to go back to work after they have children but 87% are unable to make a full time job work alongside having a family - not that surprising but the first time we’ve seen the data presented this way. This leads to a 33% drop off in female representation at management level and is a huge contributor to the gender pay gap. After I published the report, hundreds of organisations got in touch to ask how we could fix the issues so I built the Careers After Babies framework detailing what good looks like from a policy, process and practice perspective. Now I accredit organisations against that. Most importantly though, we help them be better! We assess their current state then work closely with them to become world-class employers. I’m working with an eclectic mix of industries including law firms, challenger banks, student unions, marketing agencies, consulting practices and energy suppliers. The brands are extraordinary, including KIA, Mishcon de Reya, Paramount and so many others. I’m still waiting for my first insurance company to sign on the dotted line so watch this space! 

Alongside building this business I have worked on some exciting insurance projects. One such project was working with a major insurer to look how to be successful in the delegated authority space where, with an amazing team of Camelot experts, we conducted an in-depth market scan then looked at the routes to market and critical success factors. 

I’ve also been working with a software house to re-write and embed their new strategy focusing on innovation and culture. I’ve learnt so much about progressive technology practice and been able to bring a lot of experience to implementation and the need to persevere during change.

What is your unique selling point? What makes your business approach unique?

Careers After Babies pioneers a transformative accreditation for employers supporting working parents, addressing challenges faced by 85% of UK mothers. We aim to revolutionise employer practices, share successes, and increase access to family-friendly jobs. We’re leading the movement to create a world-class cohort of employers of working parents and retaining skilled talent.

Do you have a Favourite quote? 

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” - I hope that’s what I’m doing now!

Any professional goals for the upcoming year?

This year I’m aiming to tell at least 100 new people a month about Careers After Babies! By the end of the year we’ll have made it through the full accreditation process so I’ll have that working well. I also want to work with at least one organisation in the insurance industry!

I’d like to work with at least two Camelot partners on their business strategy and of course, bring inclusive thinking to those organisations. And finally I hope to challenge the thinking of at least one individual a month through the Inclusive Leader webinar series

And… Last but not least, how does being an expert of Camelot help you/or add value to your business?

The Inclusive Leader means we can shape thinking and demonstrate why inclusion is so important to the future of the industry. After having children, I vowed I would never work in insurance again! However, Camelot made me realise the impact I can have in the insurance industry and reminded me of my credibility. I have been able to re-enter as part of an incredibly supportive team where I have joined forces with like-minded people and feel like I am driving progress through everything I do

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Jess Heagren - Expert Spotlight

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