You can’t fail to spot Jannine Oates.
A passion for leopard-print means the Batley-born owner of leadership development and coaching business Inspirit Learning Partners stands out from the crowd at networking events, seminars and training events.
“I love leopard-print,” she says. I’m the Bet Lynch of Batley! I’ll either be wearing a leopard-print dress, or scarf or bangles.”
Jannine also admits to a fondness for champagne and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but when it comes to the biggest love of her life, it’s family – partner Chris, three-year-old son Oliver and 11-year-old stepson Ewan.
“My parents-in-law have a caravan at Grassington,” says Jannine. “We also go on camping trips.
“We will be going to Disneyland Europe this year, but I think you can’t beat the British seaside holiday and we enjoy Scarborough, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay as well as the Yorkshire Dales.
“We live in a beautiful place. It is amazing.
“I also love spending time with friends and making time for myself and Chris. We always make time for ‘date nights’ and go to the cinema, restaurants or the pub.”
For someone determined not to miss out on family time, Jannine puts plenty of time and effort into her business – and supporting other companies.
She’s vice-chair of the 800-member Calderdale branch of the Federation of Small Business and sits on the committee of Business for Calderdale. Jannine is also a mentor for the Calderdale Council-backed initiative Business Growth Calderdale.
Jannine, who attended Howden Clough High School, recalls how her earliest career ambition was to become a vet. “I did some voluntary work at a vet’s in Heckmondwike,” she says.
While her career took a different path, the idea of voluntary work has stuck. As a teenager, Jannine designed and sold pictures to family and friends to raise money for good causes.
She has also worked as an escort for disabled young people with Mencap in Batley and coached gymnastics. “I was involved in voluntary work until I was in my mid-20s,” she says.
“I really wanted to be a clinical psychologist, but to do that I had to be a teacher first – not a position I wanted.”
Jannine eventually worked in financial sales for a company in Reading before joining a recruitment agency in Surrey.
Returning to Yorkshire, she joined Horizon Recruitment in Leeds, where she discovered a talent for helping people prepare for job interviews – opening the door to a career in business coaching.
“I was coaching people before I knew what ‘coaching’ was,” she says. “I was getting a high success rate for people going to interviews and securing jobs.
“I’ve always been passionate about people, seeing someone’s potential and bringing their talents to the fore.”
But she says: “I fell out of recruitment because it became very ‘salesy’ Instead, I got into training with a company in Leeds, helping people with management and leadership development.
“One day I had a defining moment. It was like the sun breaking through the clouds!
“I packed up by job and left my nice apartment in Leeds city centre and at the age of 30 got a development role with O2.”
Jannine later returned to take a similar role with her previous employer in Leeds before joining Holmfirth-based training and theatre company CragRats. When CragRats ceased trading, Jannine set up her own business, Creative Oates Ltd, before forming Inspirit Learning Partners in 2012.
The company is based at the Elsie Whiteley Centre in Halifax, but Jannine mainly works at clients’ premises or doing project work at home.
“I’m growing my business,” she says. “I aim to double my turnover this financial year and expand in areas such as helping working parents. I’m also developing seminars, such as Fizz and Ferrero sessions.”
A qualified Dale Carnegie trainer, she has worked on leadership development tasks for major names including Adidas, Jaguar Land Rover, Morrisons and US-based Taylormade Golf.
Jannine is also working with small and growing companies under the Government-funded Business Brains project in partnership with Bradford University and Business Doctors.
Leadership is a key issue for firms as recession gives way to recovery, says Jannine. “People are promoted to leadership roles because they are experts in a certain field,” she says. “But firms aren’t necessarily getting the best from their leaders.
“I focus on a person’s strengths and potential and tap into their personality to see what drives them.
“I focus on people being the best they can be in the areas in which they are strong and managing the things they’re not so good at – focusing on their innate strengths.
“It’s about performance and personality. I do a lot of work around engagement, relationships, time management and how to prioritise.”
During the recession, many firms took the axe to training as a quick and easy way to save money. Now, they’ve put it back on the agenda, but, as Jannine says: “People expect more for less.
“Organisations that are not so far-sighted put a hold on training. Now more and more businesses are becoming savvy. They realise they have to get the best from the people in their business.”
Jannine is taking a far-sighted approach to her own business. “I have a three-year plan in place and I have a business coach who works with me on strategy,” she says. “I practice what I preach!
“I love being coached because it is so beneficial.
“I have taken part in the Growth Accelerator programme to look at my own strategy and I’m working towards an executive and corporate coaching qualification to underline what I’m already doing.
“I’ve also been on a television presenter course. I’ve even been to a magic class to learn some close-up magic, which means I will be able to bring a little magic to my training events! I’m learning all the time.”
Along with her “trademark” leopard-print, Jannine can often be seen in the company of a small plastic frog. “He’s there to remind me to do theHe’s there to remind me to do the things I don’t really want to do,” she says. “He’s there to tell me not to leave that boring paperwork sitting in the in-tray!”
Family: Partner Chris and children Ewan ,11, and Oliver, three
Holidays: I love camping and I don’t think you can beat a good British seaside holiday
Car: I drive a Mazda RX8, but my dream is to get a Range Rover Evoque
First job: I started my first Saturday job aged 14 working on a fruit and veg stall at Batley market
Best thing about the job? I love seeing people get that “lightbulb moment” and start to recognise who they are and the impact they can have. I’m delighted when I’ve helped people to be more successful
Worst thing about the job? Doing the accounts. I have a frog on my desk to remind me to do the things I don’t like doing!
Business tip: Believe that you can. Be confident and positive
Work: Leadership and personal development and coaching
Phone: 01422 399555