Spotlight Member - Jenny Varley

Founder & CEO of Flink, and Global Head of Digital Communications & Employer Brand, HSBC

Jenny has re-invented her career several times during the past twenty 25 years. From journalism to PR, sponsorship marketing to film location management (she worked on the Harry Potter and Bridget Jones film franchise) and communiations and marketing in financial services to launching tech start up  www.flinkworks.co – a job-share matching platform.

Can you share the inspiration behind starting Flink? 

Two brilliant women in my team were both struggling to juggle the pressures of work and home and were going to quit jobs they loved. I wouldn’t let them. Instead, we created a job-share which enabled them to continue developing their careers on three days a week, freeing up time to do other things that were important to them, and feeling reassured that someone had their back for the two days they were out of the office.

It has been a very successful partnership, which made me excited by the potential of job-sharing on a much larger scale. The greatest barrier, however, is finding a job-share partner and at that time, no platform existed to match two people with similar skills and experience. 

So Flink was born. We are currently in beta and testing the first matching tool. Flink welcomes anyone looking to work flexibly – even if you’re not considering job-sharing as an option right now, but would like to connect with like-minded people, Flink can help. And it’s free to use. Join us at www.flinkworks.co.

I truly believe that everyone should have access to flexible working, no matter what the reason or length of tenure. Job-sharing gives the millions of people who want or need to work flexibly access to roles often perceived as impossible to do on a part-time basis. This opens up opportunities to extend careers beyond established networks, industries and geographical barriers. Job-sharing enables people to live the life they want without compromising their career or opportunity to re-skill and retrain. This way of working also has the potential to help older workers to continue learning new skills during a longer working life and for any businesses listening out there – it will help you retain talent, not least women in their 30s and 40s.


What has been your highlight as an AllBright member so far?

The people, of course! When I started thinking about Flink back in 2017, I had heard about this new women-only members’ club – it sounded so exciting and very much needed. I made it my mission to become a member straight away, as I wanted to surround myself with inspiring women who might be on similar journeys. My first AB experience was the Academy – the ‘Doing It For Yourself’ course was truly inspirational with tonnes of pragmatic guidance, which has made a huge impact on my approach to Flink. I have recommended it to lots of friends and members of my team since graduating. And I’ve since hired a fellow Academy alumnus!

 

Throughout your career you have not shied away from change. What advice would you give to women embarking on a career overhaul?

Fiercely prioritise your time – every spare minute needs to be devoted to reading, researching, networking or re-skilling. You can’t map everything out perfectly, but you can take steps that will massively increase your chances of success. Take time to build your network within the industry you’re moving to. You will also need energy, persistence and resilience in abundance. Follow up every contact and introduction and get comfortable with the unknown and ambiguous circumstances. You’ll need to free fall at some point to get started. And don’t kid yourself you don’t have time – it’s amazing how much time you get back if you cut back on TV and Instagram.


Which are the books that have had a profound impact on your life
?

I’m inspired by the power of the human spirit and endurance. My top three books are Papillon by Henri Charrière, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and River of Time by Jon Swain. 


What does sisterhood mean to you, and who’s in yours
?

I’m very lucky that my sisterhood is made up of my amazing sister and friends – both old and new. They are all strong, incredible women who keep me honest, lift me up and tell me to my face if I’m going off track. Starting a business can be lonely (if it’s not, then you’re not putting in enough hours), so I’ve connected with other founders at AllBright and the support I’ve experienced is gold dust. I mentioned Flink on AllBright Connect and I was so overwhelmed with the encouragement from fellow AllBright members who I’ve never met – I would say, then, that my sisterhood also includes brilliant women I’ve yet to meet. 


What three words sum up AllBright to you?

Strength, safety and empowerment. 


What’s a mantra that you live by?

Only focus on the things you can change. No point wasting energy looking back at closed doors.