It is such an honour to have the opportunity to represent a sector I have had such joy forging a career in over the past 15 years. The reality is, I didn’t leave college to aspire to be a parking attendant, and later a, civil enforcement officer. I think it’s safe to say that many of us fell into parking, but looking around this grand setting at the amazing people we get to work with, we haven’t done too badly, have we?
I was going to tell you about how I started my career in parking, notably the story about how my Mum threatened to disown me when she found out I got the job. But when I practiced my presidential inauguration speech in front of my wife Vicki – who also works in parking – I noticed her eyes start to roll to the back of her head. It is a look I have seen many times! Nevertheless, I’m happy to report Mum didn’t disown me and she’s now super proud.
The point I took from her reaction made me think about the importance of looking forward, rather than spending too much time looking back. At the grand age of 52, our wonderful association is doing lots of that too – looking forward to be ready for the future.
From civil enforcement officer to BPA president is a journey I am extremely proud of, and one that I hope will not be a uniquely trodden path. As I looked around the terrace at the House of Commons, I saw many people that have worked their way through the sector having started in frontline roles.
From enforcement agents to IT support teams and civil enforcement officers, from senior managers and directors. We need to consider those who have brought so much to the sector from elsewhere. ‘Falling’ into parking at a later, more established stage in their careers – they bring so much richness in terms of new perspectives.
I would like to thank our immediate past-president Mike Marrs for his valued input over the past 12 months. He has been an incredible ambassador for the sector, channelling his passion for parking into encouraging the next generation to step forward and get involved.
When sitting down to consider themes for this term as president, I looked back over my career and considered what I thought was my purpose. A common thread was challenging the norm by asking the questions ‘why has it always been done this way’ and ‘why would we continue to do it that way’?
I decided that this year there is no theme for my presidency, only the desire to have a fresh perspective. Let’s not explore what cannot be done, let’s instead open our vision to what we could, and can be achieved.
I suppose not being satisfied with the term “this is how we have always done it” is how I have come about being here today. To put it into context, as a 6-year-old I was running around the children’s play area Mike Marrs used to own. Now that surely makes me the youngest ever BPA president!
My journey and experience will aid me in really hearing what you have to say and provides me with a genuine understanding of what’s important to our membership community.
From working to ensure front line teams get the support they deserve against abuse, to helping people find their voice, and ensuring there are platforms for their voices to be heard. I hear you and I will continue to listen, learn, and represent you to the best of my ability. Together we can seek to:
Let’s work together to establish what we can bring to the table, to bring about much needed change.
Another topic close to my heart is growing our welcoming, inclusive and diverse membership. Being a diverse sector is something we can absolutely pride ourselves on, but it is high time that we focus on how we can tap into that strength and bring all of our colleagues along on the journey.
We will be focussing on creating new ways for people to get involved. From networking and professional growth opportunities, to focus groups that will play vital roles in shaping future strategy, there will be no end of opportunities for members to get involved.
The recent elections demonstrated just how much talent is out there, and just how keen everyone is to get more involved.
Creating communities such as Women in Parking (WiP) that support conversations, connections, and career development beyond what you get from a training programme, by supporting what is increasingly available through the BPA channels.
I have been fortunate to know and have worked with many inspirational women in my life, too many to name them all.
One is my mother-in-law Karen, who recently retired after serving 40 years in the NHS as a ‘critical acute care senior nurse specialist and junior doctor coordinator’ at Southend Hospital. In this role she was a key part of the team that saw us through the darkest times of the recent pandemic. I’d also like to thank my wife Vicki: I simply would not be here without her support.
Our backgrounds, upbringings, views and opinions may differ, but that is what makes it better, richer, more inclusive, and arguably, much more powerful. The power comes from the partnership, not the strength of the personality.
This year the BPA will start benchmarking where we are, and to achieve this we need your support. I urge all of you and all of your colleagues, teams, and contacts across the sector to take part in the BPA’s equality, diversity, and inclusion research by completing the survey and telling us how it really is. It is those who are very often working closely with the public that we need to hear, to help us shape a more inclusive, attentive, and representative sector.
My presidency will be dedicated to bringing about better conversations that I hope will stimulate change that will be long-lasting, meaningful, and measurable.
The members need to be the judge of that, but I hope we can have some fun as we set out those aspirations.
Jade Neville is president of the BPA and head of user experience at Conduent Transportation
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