Setting new trends

27 Nov 2023

Jonty Rooke is Ingeus’ Head of Employer Services for the Restart Scheme in London. Joining Ingeus in September 2020 was a complete change of direction – his big midlife pivot. Here’s why Jonty was ‘sew’-excited to switch his fashion career and how he’s setting new trends with the capital’s employers.

During his 20-year, high flying sales career with a global fashion brand, Jonty Rooke had been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt. Despite loving what he describes as his ‘accidental’ jet-setting fashion role, the sudden demands of becoming a single parent in 2016 and a growing desire to do something more meaningful led Jonty to accept that his career was no longer for him.

Armed with his trademark exuberance and enthusiastic commitment to reinvent himself, Jonty retrained as a personal and professional coach. He set up a successful coaching consultancy in London and embraced his new life of self-employment and school runs. Yet, as for many people, the pandemic had other ideas and with a sudden shortage of corporate coaching contracts, Jonty again found himself moving with the times – and joining Ingeus.

Jonty joined as a work coach for Ingeus’s Central London Works, Work and Health Programme in Hackney, helping long term unemployed people into work amidst the challenges of Covid. “I loved it from the word go,” enthuses Jonty. “Working with a completely different set of clients, each with their own stories to tell and often substantial challenges to overcome. I could finally look my kids in the eyes and tell them I was making a difference, changing lives. It made me very proud.”

Fast forward six months and, keen to utilise his past management experience, Jonty applied for a team leader position with Ingeus’ JETS programme. He describes having “so much fun” managing the HI-Team (Hackney and Islington) and credits colleagues at all levels for inspiring him. As JETS came to its natural end, a regional business manager role for the Restart Scheme was next in Jonty’s sights. Again Jonty was successful in this progression, and just a few months later, he was encouraged by his manager to apply for the Head of Employer Services role. A title he has held for the past year: “The support I’ve had to progress in Ingeus is remarkable,” continues Jonty. “Nobody ever said ‘pipe down, you haven’t paid your dues’… it’s been rock solid encouragement all the way."

“Ingeus is full of self-starters, and I work with wonderful teams of people. There are so many opportunities for training and career development. The support I’ve had from my managers has blown me away. Ingeus genuinely walks the walk, I can’t believe how value-led it is.”

Jonty’s role now sees him oversee a team of 25 employer services specialists, based at 13 centres across Central and West London. Their remit is to help employers recruit and retain a diverse and talented workforce, by matching their vacancies with Restart Scheme participants looking for sustainable employment. It’s a role Jonty takes very personally: “I am on a personal mission to help employers rethink their hiring, particularly around social impact. All employers must start prioritising the recruitment of unemployed people, not just to fill vacancies, but to change people’s lives,” he says. Being a toastmaster and lover of public speaking, the passion in his voice is clear! 

Now making a respected name for himself throughout the industry, Jonty knows the gravity and importance of the services Ingeus provides. Yet his insatiable joie de vivre means its also great fun.

“I didn’t expect employability to be fun. It’s serious work, changing lives, and isn’t to be taken lightly but that doesn’t mean you can’t foster a fantastic team spirit with those around you and have fun along the way. If you enjoy what you do, you learn quicker and do a better job. This is my second career and I’m not hanging around. Ingeus gives me a springboard to make a difference and remain loyal to those who support me while constantly progressing and developing. It’s a world away from the catwalks of Paris and Milan, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

If you fancy a career where you want to come to work, have an appetite for all things new, and want to genuinely make a difference, check out your next, unexpected move.

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