Jane Armitage shares a day in her life
Morning routine in our house is simple and doesn’t involve much conversation! I am usually first to go downstairs and I always enter the kitchen with a little trepidation as our cat (or rather our children’s cat who was left behind when they both left home) has a habit of bringing in ‘friends’ to play so I am always hoping that there won’t be a mouse crawling around the floor or a bird flapping about. The worst was a morning where there were two small bunnies and a mouse enjoying some warmth under my kitchen table who all needed shepherding out before breakfast could begin!
The most important part of the morning routine is coffee. We are keen morning coffee drinkers in our house. At the weekend my husband Paul performs the full barista act but on a week day it is a quick cafetiere. After breakfast - and a quick glance at breakfast news - we debate what is in the freezer that we can cook for dinner and head off for an early start in the office.
One of the great things about working in Teesside is that the commute is nothing compared to most cities. I can do the car journey from home in rural North Yorkshire to the office in Stockton in around 20 minutes and the first part of the journey takes me through some beautiful country lanes.
I like to arrive in the office no later than 8am in the hope of getting some peace before the day ahead. I like to start with a ‘to do’ list although I often find the list from the day before still on my desk only half completed. I scan emails and the overnight bulletins and try and get some straightforward tasks under way to gain some momentum. A few times a week there will be breakfast events to attend and then the routine is completely different. We have been running a monthly breakfast club in Newcastle at the Secret Tower. These are really enjoyable with interesting speakers and a group of people keen to network together. The commute though on these mornings is not quite as straightforward as there is an early start and often some heavy traffic to contend with. I always manage the cafetiere of coffee before I leave though to set me up for the journey!
I am not sure what a typical day is any more. At the moment I combine my role as managing partner for Jacksons with a commercial property practice and so there is a lot of juggling involved. Recently we have moved our head office in Teesside and so there have been meetings with surveyors and contractors and a relocation committee to add into the mix. I am hoping for a calmer period now all that is done but there is always a new project to tackle and I have a few in the pipeline at the moment.
In my “typical” day though I will do a mixture of management meetings and client work and meetings with clients interspersed. Much of my client work involves industrial sites within the Tees Valley area and I know how important these are to the local population in terms of employment. I am not a born and bred Teessider but have now lived in the area for many years and am really passionate about the region which is often overlooked. It is a great place to live and work and I am really proud of the contribution to the community that Jacksons makes.
One of the interesting things I find as a female managing partner is that you are expected to deal with all the usual matters of budgets, recruitment, team performance etc. but people seem to think you are also interested in such matters as to whether the staff fridge needs defrosting and what has been spilt in the microwave! There is never a dull moment.
I began working at Jacksons after a period at home with my children and a family secondment abroad with my husband’s job. Jacksons was really flexible about my working hours and very family friendly and I am really grateful for the opportunity they gave me to come back to work part time and to build up my hours and practice as my children got older. Now we have many people who work flexible hours. We have always found that by giving some flexibility you are rewarded many times over by loyalty and commitment in return.
Unless there is a client event or function somewhere I tend to eat lunch at my desk. Until our recent move there was nowhere convenient to purchase lunch and so I have got in the habit of bringing this with me and eating at my desk. I know this is not a good idea and a break would refresh but my instinct is always to plough on and so that is what I do. Our office in Newcastle has a café within the building and when I am up there about once a week I might treat myself to lunch especially if I have made a really early start and not got the sandwiches made!
As the management meetings and events die down at the end of the afternoon I like to make a large cup of tea and tackle some of the client work I haven’t had chance to do during the day. As the office quietens it is amazing what you can achieve. Ideally I like to leave the office by 7 and if it works switch off listening to the Archers on the way home. Everyone needs a guilty pleasure!
As I head off the dual carriageway towards home I can see the stretch of the North York Moors and that is always relaxing.
I try not to work in an evening unless necessity demands so I will have dinner with my husband, talk to or exchange WhatsApp messages with my children, go for a swim or watch a little TV of an evening before retiring. In the summer when it gets dark later I might manage a quick whizz on my bike with a friend. I always think how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country as we ride between the villages in peace and tranquillity. It is quite hilly for cycling though!
Last thing at night I always read for a few minutes to switch off completely. It is not at all unusual for the last thing I hear to be the thud of my book hitting the floor as I fall asleep book in hand!