Jen Suter

jen suter

Excited to have spoken to you Jen and humbled by the impact we have made in your life. It was so great working with you at UrbanLeaf for so many years; you really were the glue that kept us all together. You have just bought a little human into the world and we’re incredibly proud and happy for you and James. Driven, ambitious, a warrier, you somehow get through the work of 2 people, never complaining and always doing things with a can-do attitude. Save the Children will be better off when you’re ready to go back to work leading their Face-to-Face fundraising activities, a role you’re perfectly suited to. Think we managed to do it just in time, thanks so much.


What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

Marching Powder by Rusty Young. It’s a story of a small-time English drug smuggler who was arrested in Bolivia and thrown inside the notorious San Pedro prison. He found himself in a bizarre world. Prisoners have to pay an entrance fee and buy their own cells; the alternative is to sleep outside and die of exposure. There is a whole economy inside there, shops of all kinds. Prisoners’ wives and children often live inside too, high-quality cocaine is manufactured and sold from the prison, and all the police from the governor downwards can be bribed. So life there is transactional. It’s a crazy and fascinating read based on a true story. I give it to others as it’s interesting and bonkers how life can be so different.


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

My new home office chair. It’s an IKEA Millberget, was £99 and is ridiculously comfortable. I’ve had a bad back over the years so it’s really important I have a great chair. I’ve set my office up to be an environment that’s both inspiring and positive. It’s my sanctuary and is paramount to my enjoyment and productivity at work. It’s a very organised space so I get lots of things done.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

“Life is a game of inches”.

When you first introduced me to that idea, it really struck a chord.  I repeat that to myself sometimes when I feel overwhelmed. Life is difficult to navigate and sometimes it completely kicks me in the ass, but success doesn’t come from big moments and big wins. Life really is a game of inches. I now appreciate and celebrate the small wins. That helps me to tune out the negativity, reinforces the positivity and helps me move forward. 


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? 

My health care. I believe in investing in myself. It’s crucial, otherwise I will break. I’m really lucky to have my husband’s private medical health care from his work and that support has helped me with my bad back, which I’ve had for years.


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Haha. I really enjoy The Real Housewives TV series. My mind races constantly thinking about what I need to do. It does not stop! Watching this absurd program shuts it off. It’s the only thing that works! 


What frustrates you the most about your industry and the way companies are run in it?

People don’t appreciate the level of professionalism and standards in my industry. The long term value of fundraising in face to face is huge, but you have to do it properly. Unfortunately some people don’t take their role or their work seriously enough. There’s a responsibility to the sector as a whole to do it properly. Core values are important. Some people and agencies don’t share these same core values which is a risk to all of us.


In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to?

This isn’t in the last 5 years, it’s actually saying no to myself in the future! When James, my husband, and I have our baby girl, I need to let James have the responsibility for making decisions about looking after her too. He deserves the right to try things out and fail just as I do and he is keen to be an active co-parent. I want to resist the temptation just to control everything my way.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

I need structure and organisation. I can’t work in chaos. When I feel I have too much to do, I break things down to what I can and can’t control and focus on the former. And then it’s the game of inches again. What step can I do now to move the next task forward?


Which people have most inspired you in your life and why?

Sounds cheesy but it’s you two. You’ve been there during my transition from a young adult to a responsible adult; getting married, buying a house, getting promoted at work and now as a Mum-to-be. You’ve provided me with friendship, mentorship and leadership that has set me up to navigate all those things in life, with your unparalleled support and advice.

Topic: 50 in 50