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Jo Morfee

Co-founder, InnovateHer

 

And - Director at Liverpool Girl Geeks; Digital Panel Member for Institute For Apprenticeships Tech Education

Girls can do anything. You are in control of your own destiny.

What do you do?

As co-founder of a social enterprise, my role is hugely varied! We set up InnovateHer in 2015. Our mission is to equip girls aged 12-16 with the digital skills and confidence to pursue a career in STEM. We do this primarily through our 8 week after school programmes, which are led by industry role models and aims to encourage girls to take STEM subjects at GCSE and A level. We also work closely with companies to create fairer and more equitable workplaces.

 

We have a small team of four, based in Liverpool and Manchester. Due to the size of the business and that we’re in a growth phase, we all have to cover a wider range of tasks. I work on everything related to running the business and developing it, ranging from bid writing, seeking new sources of revenue, project management, financial forecasting, ordering supplies, managing the team and more. I’m very fortunate to have a brilliant team around me, including a very supportive and creative co-founder. 

Why did you choose this field?

"I always knew I wanted to run my own business, I've finally found my purpose."

It’s interesting for me to reflect upon where I’ve ended up. When my mum was my age she was working with young women as a youth worker and counsellor. She loved the job and made a huge difference to so many girls' lives; some of the them still approach her today and tell her how much she helped them. I have always admired the work she did - she also worked with homeless people and ran an advocacy service for those in need. I think my need to do work with a purpose and give something back stems from seeing how rewarding it has been for my mum throughout her career.

Both my Grandma’s were feminists. One set up her own businesses in the 1960s/1970s, when it was rare for women to do that. She went to the bank manager for a loan and he laughed at her, but found a way to start despite him. I’ve inherited my fierce independent streak and determination from her!

Over the past 15 years I’ve worked for a wide variety of organisations - both public and private sector - and always felt like I wanted to be in the driving seat. I’m creative, good at problem solving and love connecting with people, all traits which lend themselves well to being an entrepreneur. I briefly had a marketing business in 2005 which lasted one year but learned a huge amount from it failing fast and knew I wanted to try again. So when I met Chelsea (my co-founder) and she asked me if I wanted to quit my job and join her, I didn’t hesitate. 

Our mission is one I feel very passionately about because I have seen first-hand how the gender imbalance can impact negatively on the team and outputs that are produced. There is a lot of work to be done to create truly equal and inclusive workplaces and we both wanted to try and tackle this issue. I think if you have a passion you should pursue it because life is so short and you spend too much time at work to do something in a half-hearted way.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"I've not looked back since leaving my job to do this."

I wish I had recognised earlier happiness is the number one thing to try and achieve in life. Obviously we can’t be happy 100% of the time, but if your work is generally rewarding and it makes you happy, you will thrive.

 

I wish I’d known sooner you can walk away from a job or a situation if it makes you unhappy. It can be really scary, but also very liberating. For years I made excuses for why I was staying in a job that made me miserable. No more excuses! 

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love seeing the difference we’re making to young women’s lives. We’ve seen girls completely transform as a result of attending our programme, growing in confidence and self-belief and making new friends. We get thank you cards from girls and their parents a lot. It makes all the hard work worthwhile. I look forward to seeing where each and every one of them ends up - they are going to completely disrupt the industry and I can’t wait to see that!

Best advice for the next generation

Never let anyone tell you something isn’t possible. Girls can do anything. You are in control of your own destiny. 

 

And...join our InnovateHer community online to meet like-minded girls and be inspired! 

Fun fact

I have a small camper van and I love the freedom it gives me. I like to wake up at the weekend and think ‘where shall I go today?’ and then just drive into the wilderness and sleep wherever it looks like I’ll have a good view in the morning. It’s my way of satisfying my nomadic nature and my love of the wild!