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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sounding Board: Jane Boardman

This week we focus on Jane Boardman, one of the new Chamber Board members.

Jane Boardman grew up in Ellesmere Port on the Wirral and came to Manchester in 1993 where she studied Maths at the University of Manchester. She confides that she initially chose Manchester because it was 35 miles from home and she thought if she got homesick she could go back fairly frequently – although she remembers not going home very much during her years of study.

Post university, Jane went straight into graduate employment with what was then Arthur Andersen.  Here she trained to be Chartered Accountant and qualified in 1999. In 2002 - post the Enron scandal - Arthur Andersen was acquired by Deloitte. At Deloitte in 2007, she was made a partner at 31, then the youngest partner in the UK firm. Commenting on when Arthur Andersen and Deloitte came together, she believes, “you got the best of both worlds”.

As someone who has spent her whole career working with other businesses, Jane sees numerous opportunities for her and for the Chamber to utilise her own considerable work experience: “One of the reasons I want be involved with the Chamber is to get closer to businesses and to businesses’ opinions. I see that at Board level. My client base is very diverse. I have a slight bias in my portfolio towards energy and resources clients and within that sector, regulated utilities: water companies, electricity companies – but I have clients across a wide range of industries and a wide range of sizes as well -everything from start-ups to global multinational businesses.”

She recognises the value of seeing businesses from different levels – local, national and international: “In one sense business is becoming more international and in my field that can sometimes take you away from what is going on in your immediate surroundings. You get a very good view of the international business environment – but that can result in you becoming “more disconnected from what is going on in the city and I love the city.” 

She is also passionate about the number of great developments taking place across Greater Manchester: “You look at Graphene, sport city, media city, airport city ... and a lot more to come with HS3 etc and that really excites me.” She believes that working with the Chamber allows her “to harness that excitement for what’s going on here.”

She believes that there is real value for her own and the Chamber’s development, commenting that her association with the Chamber gives her “better visibility”, but also “an opportunity to contribute.”

Once Jane graduated and was working she played football for Manchester City for 13 years. She believes that this was great experience, since her team mates came from all walks of life. “That kept my grassroots connections to the city” she says.  Although she played for Manchester City, she nonetheless remains devoted to Liverpool Football Club.

Jane believes that there is a special chemistry to Greater Manchester, calling it “something intangible”. She recalls her first positive impressions when she first came for a university interview: “It was the people I met, the energy about the place”. She believes that that this initial impression has been proven to be true in her many years working in the city region.

She confesses that she had no history of working with Chambers of Commerce, but remembers how she first came into contact with them: “Having got to know David McKeith through one of his non-executive positions about three-four years ago” she now acknowledges that “the best thing about the Chamber is that it’s a membership organisation and so it’s actively responding to members’ issues and it’s independent.” She adds: “The Chamber is unique in its ability to service the private sector.  Having a truly independent interface between the public and private sector, that is well-regarded, that is founded on economic data that is robust and has a good communication mechanism with its members - so it can demonstrate it is actively and accurately reflecting the views of its members - I think that’s a huge opportunity.”

She is also confident, in the many debates around policy over the coming years, that “the Chamber will have a fundamental role to play in that.”

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