Our passionate, inspiring and all round AMAZING General Manager Jo Harris spoke to Michelle Hammond at the Spa Business School about her journey to date in the beauty industry.
Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?
My parents divorced when I was about 5. My Mum raised my sister and I to be very self-sufficient. She was a female editor in what was very much a man’s world. I used to go and stuff invoices into envelopes and do the franking during the holidays and saw what it took to be in the world of work. Strong committed and dependable
traits that have put me in good stead.
Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?
To develop a team that want to work for you and will go above and beyond their role because of their leader. As GM of the Urban Retreat at Harrods I managed a team of 200 staff with a 90% retention rate. You have to love your team and earn their respect in turn they will deliver.
Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?
To take the role that I am currently in – I feel now is the time that I can put back what I have got out of the industry and make a difference that is so desperately needed.
Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?
Probably my clients. Starting out as a therapist you develop the skills to deal with all kinds of people from all backgrounds, cultures and situations, you become their sounding board and therapist in every sense - it moulds you as a person. We are all clients so it influences decisions we make in our business about how we need to
Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?
Definitely the most difficult was to turn down a role that was offering more than I was on – I had a tough time wrestling with the decision to take it or not, I decided not to because when it came to the crunch I didn’t actually want to do the job and so my work happiness outweighed financial gain, a decision I do not regret.
Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for Success?
Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?
I can’t get anything done. I start shuffling papers and moving them from A to B with no outcome. I become very unfocused, thankfully I don’t get stressed very often.
Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing? How do you look after yourself?
Until recently very poorly, after attending Spa Fest organised by the lovely Amanda Winwood my attitude has changed. I swim every week, I also love a spa day away on my own once every couple of months to clear my head and have space to think without interruption.
Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?
The perception – still we have the view that beauty is at the bottom of the career ladder, I want to shout from the rooftops that this is a career with an infinite amount of opportunity there for the taking – this is my intention for 2019 to change this perception.
Q10 - Finally, What’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Do what’s right for you and no one else, from a very good friend of mine and very sensible advise!
FLASH FACTS - FOR FUN SECTION
1. What’s your favourite book
Survive the savage sea by Dougal Robertson!
It’s the one book i re-read a lot. I was given it by an Aunty when I was a kid. It’s based on true facts of being stranded at sea and the grit, determination and endurance to survive is inspiring. I seem to have kept these facts in case I’m ever stranded at sea
2. What’s your favourite film of all time?
Titanic (hum I see I theme going on here!) it gives me an excuse for a good old cry!
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
Probably my Dziadzia ( Grandfather) , he died just before I was 10 he was Polish and now as an adult I wish I knew his history and story to pass on to my kids.
4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?
Cathedral Cove New Zealand where my husband proposed to me.
5. Your perfect dinner is?
Turkey Christmas dinner with all the trimmings I could eat that every day!
6. Your go to drink is?
Villa Maria, NZ Sauvignon Blanc
7. Your favourite sweet treat is?
Any chocolate with nuts in but I definitely prefer savoury.
8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?
Tangerine it’s so uplifting.
9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?
Reflexology. I love my feet being massaged and even better it fixes concerns in your body as well, you get 2 treatments in 1!
10. What’s your favourite flower?
11. You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?
Have a nice soak in the bath before bed and have a cup of Pukka herbs night time tea guaranteed out like a light.
12. You want to energise fast, what do you do?
Have a wheatgrass shot it is so awful it gets you hopping!
13. The theme tune to your life is?
Life is a Roller-Coaster by Ronan Keating!! Mine never stops!
14. What makes you laugh to your belly?
At the moment it’s my eldest daughter she is turning into a tweenager and the things she comes out with are hilarious, unfortunately she doesn’t seem to find it funny!
15. What’s your favourite season?
16. What’s your favourite colour?
17. Your favourite time of day is?
Evening when I get home and catch up with the family on our day.
18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?
A forensic pathologist or a detective – I love investigating and getting to the bottom of things, I’m quite intuitive.
19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?
MasterChef Australia i'm obsessed with George, Matt and Gary’s enthusiasm over food.
20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?
I think to re-learn how to read music. I have a cello but can’t play it anymore.
A self-developed and passionate therapist, Jo started her career in 1991 at the Dorchester’s prestigious luxury spa, driven by the desire to make a difference Jo's career extended through roles of operations and management in a number of premium locations.
Joining the Urban Retreat brand in 1997 a 20 year career with the group followed culminating as the General Manager of Urban Retreat at Harrods, overseeing the 33.000sq ft. of luxury salon and retail space.
Jo has now taken the helm as General Manager at the renowned, private, London School of Beauty and Make-up bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to the next generation of talent determined to make an industry change that is so desperately needed.
Sunday 18th November 2018
By Michelle Hammond