International Women’s Day – An Interview with Christina Jansen
This Friday 9th March is International Women’s Day, a day which marks both the achievements of women all over the world as well as highlighting why it is so necessary to continue the fight for gender equality, both politically and socially. The theme of this year’s IWD is #BalanceForBetter, a nod to the growing push for professional gender equality around the world. The theme has been described as a “business issue” and is aimed at encouraging gender balance in the workplace, in boardrooms, and in wealth, so that economies can thrive. Their motto is ‘balance drives a better working world’, and we couldn’t agree more.
We feel very encouraged by how many outstanding female business owners there are here in Edinburgh, not least our own Managing Director Louise Dickins. Louise has successfully run Dickins Edinburgh for over 20 years. Last year we interviewed her as part of International Women’s Day 2018 – you can read the post here.
This year we’re honoured to introduce another inspirational Edinburgh business owner, Christina Jansen. Christina is the Managing Director at The Scottish Gallery on Dundas Street. The gallery was founded in 1842 and is an elegant space specialising in contemporary art, ceramics, and jewellery. They pride themselves on being experts in the Scottish art market. Christina joined the gallery in 1997 and she discusses who has inspired her as well as her advice for starting a business.
An Interview with Christina Jansen
1. What’s unique about The Scottish Gallery?
The Scottish Gallery is both a historical and contemporary art gallery. We have a unique artistic history. We remain relevant by championing Scottish contemporary art and fostering relationships with up and coming, mid-career and established artists. The Gallery also has an international reputation for applied arts, which is unique to Scotland. Having 177 years of experience and a continuous trading history is helpful – we understand art and artists. We are a small, dedicated team and we have continually evolved as a business to survive and we take nothing for granted. It’s all about detail, experience, quality, innovation, and service.
2. Who inspired you to get where you are in your career?
I’ve always been self-driven, at first from fear of failure and a desire to contribute to a team or just do a job well. I’ve also been very lucky and made my own opportunities, which in turn led to encountering inspiring colleagues, artists, and clients. My first boss was someone called Kathleen Slater. I worked for her at the V&A in London for the crafts council. Kathleen was a great boss; strict but human, driven, and detail focussed. She was dedicated to artists, clients, and curators. She taught me why discipline matters, as well as being strategic and systematic. Kathleen is currently a senior director at Adrian Sassoon, London. She’s now a very good friend.
3. What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business?
I would say to anyone starting out in business that they have to have a plan. Passion is essential but don’t be blinded by that alone; the idea has to be sustainable. Do the maths. If the idea has legs – do it. Make sure you have good people around to support you. Make sure you are legally covered. And beware the dangers of social media; it’s a tool, not a magic wand.
4. If you could choose anyone past or present, who would you pick as your mentor?
Several years ago I was invited to a Women in Scotland lunch in Glasgow. There were several inspiring women speakers but the one who stood out like a shining beacon was Anne Richards. I think she is a truly inspiring individual, who is intimidatingly clever and charismatic. She’s an effortless communicator and very likable. I listened to every word she said and kept thinking about what she meant. She explained her understanding of the stock markets and how to pick up trends just by looking at the world around you. She’d be the best mentor because she makes the complex comprehensive.
5. Which other Edinburgh women-led business do you admire?
I admire the work that Liz McAreavey does as the chief executive for Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. She is a superb ambassador for Edinburgh and Scotland and brings real experience and expertise to the position. She’s a down to earth Wonder Woman.