1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Amie Callan, and I am a Partner and Head of Finance at Jacksons. I joined the firm in 2018 and became a partner in 2020. I am primarily based at our Head Office at Stockton. I manage a team of four without which we would not be able to provide a first-class service to both Jackson’s staff and our clients.
2. Where did you go to school/university?
I attended school at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy in Birtley, completing both GCSE’s and A-Levels. I then joined Northumbria University to embark on a Business Management degree, before deciding to complete both my Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification as part of a full time Finance Graduate programme at Parker Hannifin Limited, at the time the company was called Domnick Hunter Limited. I decided to go down the work experience route whilst completing both my AAT and ACCA qualifications as opposed to attending University and then studying for my professional qualifications. The work experience that I gained was invaluable and has shaped me into the person I am today.
3. What brought you to Teesside and Jacksons in particular?
Before joining Jacksons, I worked for a not-for-profit organisation based in Newcastle and prior to this I spent over 10 years within Manufacturing at Parker Hannifin Limited, a US multinational organisation, I was based in Gateshead but was fortunate enough to travel across Europe as part of my role. I can still remember the interview process with Jacksons well, the feeling I had when I walked into the office was so welcoming and I just knew straight away that this was somewhere that I wanted to work. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and it was quite clear from the get-go that this was a dynamic business. The move to Jacksons resulted in me relocating to Teesside where I genuinely feel at home.
4. How does working in the legal sector compare with other sectors in which you have worked?
This was my first encounter with a law firm and the associated SRA rules that need to be adhered too. I was conscious that I would need to devote time to understand the rules thoroughly and I was fortunate enough to join Jacksons knowing that the SRA rules were about to be condensed and a lot of the rules would be open to interpretation in terms of timescales, for example, where I was able to create our own version of the rules for Jacksons, this only enhanced my understanding of the rules further. Whilst the SRA rules were completely new to me the fundamentals of Finance remain the same regardless of the sector you are working in. I have been able to bring my manufacturing and not for profit experience to the role at Jacksons, implementing new procedures such as a Finance Kamishibai Board, providing clear and concise management information and leading the implementation of a new practice management system from a finance perspective whilst generating efficiencies within the firm such as automation. Dealing with solicitors has been different to working with shop floor employees or people within the charity sector, but I feel personally that it is important that no matter the audience, your style remains the same.
5. What do you do to support the local community?
I am a strong advocate for gaining professional qualifications and continuous professional development where I will encourage colleagues, family, and friends to continue their development. I also participate in the ACCA mentoring programme where I provide help and advice to others in the hope of furthering their development. I will always be an advocate for both AAT and ACCA, as I am extremely proud to be members of both associations.
Jacksons as an organisation are always looking for ways to support local charities. Personally, myself and the Finance team, are proud to be currently raising awareness for Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, a leading local mental health charity aimed at supporting and improving people’s wellbeing. It is an honour to support this charity as they work tirelessly to support people, making a difference to them and their lives.
6. What projects have you been involved with which you are most proud to be associated with?
Jacksons is a great firm that embraces change, consequently there are always opportunities to lead and implement a wide range of projects. I am particularly proud of the projects that have been successfully implemented by the Finance team, such as the development of management information packs, automation within the accounts and a Finance Kamishibai Board. The information provided to the management team in any business is crucial, it must be informative and concise, while giving an accurate representation of the business allowing the management team to make informed decisions. Similarly, the Kamishibai Board, which is all based around standard work, underpins this by ensuring daily, weekly, and even monthly tasks are completed on time and the information is available to allow a level of analysis. On a more personal level and applying my previous experience in a large multinational corporation, I have developed a deflation plan, focused on reducing the cost base at Jacksons and protecting profitability.
7. What do you do to keep in touch with the business community in the area?
I regularly attend network events and communicate with local business leaders, while attending seminars and various award ceremonies where it is great to network with others. In my role it is crucial to maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders. I personally feel the best businesses learn from each other and from developing strong relationships.
8. What have you done to support staff at Jacksons during the last few months when they have been working from home?
Working from home and the transition to remote working has presented numerous challenges, as it will have for every business. Overnight the Finance team has gone from relying on informal communication to a reliance on new technology platforms to communicate. While this period has clearly outlined that remote working is not only possible, but offers people flexibility, it can also be prohibitive in terms of informal communication and leave some people feeling isolated. Consequently, I have ensured daily team meetings, while also taking the time each day to approach individuals within the team, replacing the ‘water cooler’ conversations. Similarly rotating the team on site has helped ensure the balance between onsite and remote working, while supporting business needs.
9. What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, where possible, and going for long walks. I am a religious step counter, particularly due to a charity event we have this month where, as a Finance team we have set ourselves a target to do 20,000 steps each per day for 10 days taking us to 1 million steps.
10. Sum up why Jacksons is a great place to work and live in one sentence.
I love working for Jacksons, we are a dynamic team full of committed people, who always strive to provide a first-class service to clients.