Joanna Bodell is a Manx-made MD. Since 2019, she has been the Managing Director of ZEDRA, an international Global Expansion, Active Wealth and Funds services provider. This isn’t a role simply handed to her: at 18, after leaving college, she entered the world of assurance and corporate services in a junior position. Through hard-work, dedication and talent, she managed to climb the corporate ladder to eventually land her current position.

Having worked in businesses such as Equiom and Isle of Man Financial Trust, Joanna left her role as managing director of the Law Trust in 2017 to join ZEDRA in a business development role. In 2019, the company gave her the opportunity to go global and help steady the ship in the Malta office and assist the then MD. It was an experience that Joanna loved (and, on a hot island, who can blame her?). She was well-supported during her time abroad, as the company recognised that she had personal responsibilities back home, with a son who still lived at home and two large fur babies (German Shepherds). ZEDRA also gave Joanna the autonomy to shape the project in Malta. Something obviously worked: on return, following some restructuring, Joanna was offered the role of Managing Director. 

Joanna BodellJoanna Bodell

Joanna Bodell

As MD, Joanna oversees the whole of the Isle of Man operation, which consists of approximately 70 people, with all the heads of function reporting to her. She’s not unique in being a woman in power at ZEDRA; globally, 50% of the management team are women, as is the local management team. With 60% of the global workforce being women, the company very much promotes equal opportunities.
While businesses may now embrace women in power, Joanna acknowledges that it was “not a million years ago” that things were quite different. Very early on in her career, Joanna found that there was an “old school, boys club mentality”. The humour in offices often seemed very much “carry on camping”. However, through her career, Joanna has seen a clear shift in attitudes. She credits this to the women’s movement, and being “a symptom of the times”. She has perceived that equality and diversity are now recognised as being very important to many organisations, and especially in bigger international businesses. 

Old school, and often sexist, office banter might have been left in the past, but Joanna is keen to note that humour still exists, and that “everyone needs a laugh”. It is important, she notes, that a balance is found, and lines are not overstepped. Boundaries need to be in place so that everyone can feel comfortable.

It’s also vital that members of either sex feel supported within the office environment. As a woman, Joanna felt especially supported in her early parts of her career, as she balanced exams and having young children. ZEDRAcontinues to support their employees by offering a flexible working policy and carer days. Employees can work from home for up to 20% of the time (1 day a week), and can work flexibly within core business hours. Flexibility is great for any employee, but it particularly benefits women, who can continue with their careers after becoming mothers. ZEDRA supports parents regardless of gender, a policy that can further benefit the careers of mothers, if a father decides to take a greater share of parenting duties. While it may not be the norm for men to work flexibly around children, Joanna has witnessed it become less taboo for men to take these opportunities.

This International Women’s Day, Joanna wants to celebrate the leaps and bounds women have made within the corporate world. She thinks it is important to what women have gone through to achieve equality in the workplace. It’s also important to celebrate the many fantastic women in business now in powerful roles. 

Joanna is also optimistic about the future. In the younger generations entering businesses, she has perceived that many young people have had ideas of equality ingrained into them from a very young age. She hopes and believes that soon, equality will become a “non-issue”; something that is just a given.

Advertising Feature in conjunction with Gef’s International Women’s Day Series

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