Today I met Paul Widger fom JCI Manchester. He was also known as Mr Union Jack at the European Confernece in Braunschweig.
Can you tell us about your background?
I studied sciences at Durham University but I was interested in business and joined accountancy firm Baker Tilly an auditor in 2005. I’ve ended up as a Forensic Accountant (a kind of financial detective!) I love Manchester and I love helping businesses and meeting new people here.
When did you join JCI?
I came to my first JCI event in July 2010 – a sushi-making social – because it was a bit quirky. Based on the enthusiasm of the people I met, I joined up pretty much straight away and became a director six months later. I’m Manchester’s Deputy President 2012.
Can you tell us what you have been involved in in JCI?
I’ve been to dozens of Manchester events, from presentation skills training to speed networking. The first event I was involved in organising was an “ask the panel” event on business start-ups, which I chaired – it was a great discussion with successful local entrepreneurs and experienced advisors.
In June 2012 I attended my first international JCI event – the European Convention in Germany – and it was one of the best weeks of my life (so far!) There were 2,000 people from across Europe and beyond joining together for workshops, business tours and, of course, some great parties.
What have you learned from being involved?
The most uplifting thing I’ve learned is that there are other people out there who are like me – people who aren’t content just with the day job; people who want to push themselves and make a difference; people in Manchester, in the UK and all over the world!
How has being a JCI member influenced your career?
JCI delivers soft skills training but, more importantly, gives us a safe environment to practice them. I have become more confident at presenting, pitching and networking. My profile in Manchester has grown, as I must have met more than 200 new people through our events. Further afield, I’ve met people in other UK cities and from dozens of other countries – if my job ever requires me to travel abroad, it will be great to be able to meet up with a friendly local.
How is JCI different from other networks/organisations in Manchester?
No other organisation has the wide remit of training, business, social, community and the international links. Being run by a young team of volunteers, our events are relevant and fun. We’re also great value in terms of the number of events you can attend for your membership fee.
If you can invite any speaker to a JCI event who would that be?
Writing in the week that she visited London for the first time in 24 years, I have to pick Aung San Suu Kyi. Her speech, in the Mother of All Punch & Judy Parliaments, reminded us that positive change can be created by individuals in a peaceful way and that a free democracy (however much we moan about it) is a precious thing.
Who is a leader you admire?
How would you describe him/her?
His best characteristics are innovation, likeability and a being figurehead whilst staying in touch with customers and the detail of his businesses.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Marilyn Monroe: If ever you’re thinking “Do I or don’t I?”, do.
What can JCI do for you? Do you need help with anything such as
connections, developing ideas?
We’re quite a new board of directors – doing well but always learning. All chambers can benefit from sharing best practice. Specifically, our team hasn’t organised a national JCI event in Manchester yet. When we do, we’ll be calling our friends in other chambers for advice on how they did it.
Thank you Paul, I am sure there are many JCI members who would like to share some tips with you about how to arraange a conference.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Sofie Sandell