Jackie Matthias: CEO of West Kent Chamber of Commerce

PUBLISHED: 08:02 20 June 2014 | UPDATED: 08:02 20 June 2014

Jackie Matthias

Jackie Matthias

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Supporting local businesses in and around her base in Tonbridge

Tell us a bit about you

I have lived in Brenchley for 28 years. I’m a widow with one son aged 30, he attended Holmwood House and Tonbridge School and after studying at Leeds University came back to Kent to run his own business. As a family we are grounded in Kent.

I worked for Tate & Lyle in the City for more than 20 years, leaving to start my own consultancy business. I joined the West Kent Chamber of Commerce to gain business and to meet people in the area and within a few months I was elected to the Board of the Chamber and then became President, serving for three years. In 2003 I became Chief Executive of the Chamber.

Tell us about the Chamber

The Chamber is the leading business support organisation for West Kent. Our members range from sole traders to companies with more than 300 employees. As well as organising a varied programme of networking events, we offer support to businesses, including free business advice clinics, a free telephone support helpline, a quarterly magazine, desk diary, members’ website and discounted healthcare.

I’d definitely recommend joining the West Kent Chamber of Commerce, it’s the best way to meet clients and suppliers, plus you can get free advice for your business.

What else are you involved in locally?

I was very pleased to be asked to join the Town Team in Tonbridge last year. The Town Team is committed to improving the economic future for all businesses in Tonbridge, an aim that the Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly supports

Best piece of business advice?

My first role was PA to Sir Ian Lyle, President of Tate & Lyle. He told me that when he visited anywhere in the company he always made a point of talking to the staff on the ground floor. Some years later when I was a manager and I visited the sugar estate in Jamaica I remembered Sir Ian’s advice and insisted on talking to the staff. I spent a most enjoyable and very interesting fact-finding afternoon riding around the estate with the boss of the cane cutters. I learnt more in that afternoon than a week of meetings with top management.

What makes a good boss?

Having staff who challenge you.

Is being a female boss a challenge?

When I first became a manager in the early 80s it was very challenging, especially in a male-dominated industry. Business life has changed a lot in the past 20 years, although it is still challenging for women in the City.

Your most prized possession?

My pearls.

Do you use social media?

No, I don’t. I am a great believer in talking to people. Texting, emails, Linked in, etc take too much time; pick up the phone and you can sort things out quickly.

How is your work/leisure balance?

I have to admit that for the majority of my life work has probably dominated. I now play golf and try to have more leisure time.

Do you do much entertaining?

I very rarely entertain business associates for lunch and never for dinner. Nowadays most business people are too busy and companies don’t want to spend too much money. Another reason that Chamber events are so popular is that people can meet clients, suppliers and old friends at our events without incurring large costs

What did you have for breakfast?

I never eat it except on holiday and then only after I’ve had a swim. It’s one of the reasons I hate business breakfasts – and getting up early! n

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