Zelica Jones is the founder of Vass; a virtual assistant business which provides administrative, accounting, legal, HR, event co-ordination, marketing (including social media management) support, which in turn frees up your time to focus on the activities that bring in the most income for your business.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No.  When I was younger, I wanted to be a Barrister and then an Athlete.  But I was really good at Maths so my Head Teacher suggested I should be an Accountant.  I was never sure whether that was something I actually wanted to do and didn’t make a firm decision about my career until I started my business in 2014.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I have faced many challenges! Racism, sexism, feelings of not being good enough and doubting myself.  But my mum and kids are my biggest cheerleaders and soon have me feeling great about myself. Whenever I feel down, I just spend time with my family who will have me hysterically laugh and feeling a lot better. Exercise also helps.  If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I head to the gym and run.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Make a five year plan. Decide where you want to be in five years time and then work backwards. Where you want to be in four years, three years, two year, one year, six months.  Make sure you look at that plan at those intervals to make sure you are still on track or if your goals need adjusting because the plan has changed.

How is your own company/organisation improving diversity and balance?

I am black, female and a working mum so I tick a few boxes myself! I also want as many different people working with me so we can appeal to as many clients as possible.

How do you manage your own boss?

Badly! I am the boss and find it hard that I’m not accountable to anyone sometimes.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I’m awake by 6am to get my son ready for school and we are out of the house by 6.50am.  Once I drop him off at 8am and get the train into Central London, I check emails and social media.  Before I go to bed, I go through my diary and organise my next day and add any tasks to my to do list which have come up.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Be visible and speak up. Women stereotypically just get on with things and can fade into the background.  Make yourself known to those who are the decision makers.  Be vocal about your ambitions and show initiative.  Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

It has helped gain clarity over various aspects of my life; made me accountable; keeps me motivated; have someone I can offload/brain dump to.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker

Networking is great but network where your ideal client or people who are where you want to be in the future will be.  Networking isn’t about having fun, it’s work.  Have any agenda or plan of action about what you hope to get out of attending that event

What does the future hold for you?

The next two years I plan to grow the company to a stage where I only handle a maximum of two clients and start The VASS Community Project (VCP).  VCP will a fully funded version of VASS where we help train people in Accounting, Admin, Marketing/PR, Design, Social Media Management skills to give them a flexible way to work.

Perhaps they have been a stay at home mum who wants to get back into the working world but has found that she can’t afford to because childcare is too expensive.  I want to train as many people as possible in Virtual work.