International Women’s Day: Jenny Reed

March 7, 2023

Sector: Finance

International Women’s Day is celebrated globally every 8 March to recognise the contributions of women to social, economic, cultural, and political advancements. The day also calls for action to accelerate progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year, Kreston Global aims to feature a few remarkable women from their network and learn from their experiences on what it means to be a successful woman in the organisation.

Jenny Reed is a well-established figure in the accounting and auditing industry, with over 25 years of experience across both public practice and industry. Earlier this year, she was appointed Director of Quality and Professional Standards at Kreston Global, a role she has taken on with great enthusiasm and expertise. Before this, she served as the Head of Audit and Assurance at Baker Tilly International, where she established a reputation for herself as a dedicated and innovative leader.

What drives as a senior role in the global accounting network?
My key driver is the desire to help people – I work for the benefit of our member firms, so everything I do is to help them, ultimately to help them help their clients.

Do you think the sector welcomes females in leadership roles?
Things have improved since I joined the accountancy profession some 25 years ago. When I was a trainee, I wasn’t even allowed to wear trousers at work! Thankfully, things have moved on a lot since then, and we are seeing far more female directors and partners and more women in senior leadership roles within the global offices of accounting networks. So I think it’s imperative to do all I can to encourage and enable the next generation of women moving up in the profession. We can all do that at every stage of our careers.

What qualities do you need to be a successful female leader in global accounting?
Working internationally is a great privilege. People from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds have their perspectives and ways of working, and part of my role is to help bring those other ideas and views together for the benefit of the whole network. You need to be a good listener and have much humility – I have strong opinions but hold them very lightly, as I never know when someone worldwide will have a better idea or approach. A certain amount of diplomacy and patience is also needed – bringing people together and reaching a consensus can take time but is valuable to the organisation.

We recently surveyed ‘interpreneurs’ – entrepreneurs looking to expand internationally. The data showed that female CEOs were more likely than males to consider expanding overseas. Why do you think this might be?
Historically, many women believed they needed to work harder and be better than men to get ahead, and their drive to succeed may encourage them to take the risk to go global. Effective overseas expansion is always a collaborative effort, so since teamwork is a strength of many women, this statistic doesn’t surprise me.

There was a significant indication that existing networks were an attraction to overseas expansion in particular countries; why do you think female interpreneurs value this more than their male counterparts?
Knowing that you have access to local knowledge and expertise through an accounting network is reassuring and gives confidence to interpreneurs to focus on what they do best.

What advice would you give your 28-year-old self?
When I applied for trainee roles in accountancy, I was surprised at how many interviews I was offered. In the early part of my career, I would frequently underestimate my abilities and not push myself forward for promotions. The best advice I could give my younger self would be to have confidence in my abilities and to reach for the stars!

Read more from our other featured women for International Women’s Day, here.