Jen Holmes

Accountancy & Finance BA (Hons)

Jen chose BCU for its vibrant community and proximity to her favourite football team. She thrived at BCU, leading to a successful career at Baird Foods Ltd, where she has progressed to Head of Operations, where she now manages daily operations, upholds high standards, and aspires to further her education in Supply Chain Management, advocating for equality in a once male-dominated industry. 

“When I was younger, I remember going with my parents to help my older sister settle at university. This really inspired me to focus on my studies so that I could follow in her footsteps, and as a result, my grades massively improved.

I went on to study Business Studies and Financial Studies at college and, after reading recommendations, applied for Accountancy at BCU. I knew that out of the five universities I was accepted at, BCU was for me. The proximity of Aston Villa Football Ground was a major attraction. One of the major challenges I faced was that I found it very difficult to learn in a classroom environment and so I had to learn how to apply myself at a young age. But I loved studying at BCU. I found my lectures to be helpful and inspiring. It was eye-opening to meet new people from different cultural backgrounds.

Throughout the three years I was studying, the people I met and the introductions to different cultures massively shaped me as an individual and really inspired me to leave my mark on the world. During my time at BCU, I also worked part-time at KFC, working my way up to Team Trainer.

Now, I’m Head of Operations for Baird Foods LTD. I secured the role at Baird Foods LTD in 2013 as an Accounts Assistant. Since I joined, they have massively supported my career and professional development in allowing me to oversee and explore different departments of the business until the perfect role for me was carved out: Head of Operations.

Since joining the company, we have seen massive successes in the development of Baird Foods, which is now a group of companies that service and supply major supermarkets and manufacturers. My focus is with the day-to-day operations of the ever-changing industry along with our team of strong female Operations Managers.

As for my career path, I was promoted to Divisional Accounts and Logistics Manager, then to Company Accounts and Logistics Manager, then to Company Distribution & Operations Manager and finally Head of Operations. My career has excelled pretty much in a linear direction.

As the pace of the industry within Food, Distribution and Operations has massively excelled in the last 10 years due to technology, it has really been an interesting place to work; building and integrating systems and building relationships with endless career progression opportunities and support from my employers.

Being able to understand and apply management cost accounting, along with financial accounting, has given me a great base of education to develop my skills and interests further within all departments of the business. It has given me a solid foundation in understanding the process of manufacturing and the movement of goods. BCU taught me how to become adaptable, relevant, grounded, and always know how to apply myself to get to exactly where I want to be in life.

My days are very varied, but always interesting. I speak with suppliers, customers, and service providers on a daily basis. This includes using calibration and communication to drive Baird Foods' ethos whilst driving high standards, a customer-focused service, and ensuring we meet all Brand Reputation through Compliance (BRC) global standards to uphold our accreditations. We import, export and manufacture products every day so our operations are continuously moving, and stock management is essential. Communication is a massive part of my day-to-day work too, and this can be done with a wide range of customers.

Logistics is an ever-changing, ever-moving industry to work in. There are new changes and challenges every day due to delays that usually are not within our control, for example, weather, border stops, traffic and mechanical breakdowns. We are constantly having to analyse our business organisation, cost centres and structure to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our customers. This takes both financial and time management. Technology is also a big part of my role, as I continually assess the systems we use, how we operate, and really focus on what is within our control to change and to keep up to date with regulations.

My proudest achievement since graduating has been becoming Head of Operations for Baird Foods LTD. I felt like this was recognition for all the years of dedicated work I have invested in the company.

In the long-term future, I would like to return to BCU to do a Master's degree in Supply Chain Management.

Working as a female and a member of the LGBTQ+ community in what was once a male dominated area of business, I strive to be a positive role model for all who come into contact with me as I build partnerships with others, such as Tamworth Football Club, to improve equality for women.

My advice to those wishing to study Accountancy at BCU is to give it your all, absorb as much as you can, and don't forget to have fun along the way.

To me, ‘I AM BCU’ means that I am part of the greater community. I am the legacy of my ‘Brummie’ parents. I am part of a greater good that stands to leave the world a better place than I leave it. I am part of equal rights for all.”