Karen Kelly is the managing director of her own IT company, which has been running successfully for 10 years. In this interview, she talks through how she got to where she is and the barriers that she faced on the way.
Tell us a bit about your current role:
I am Managing Director/Principal Consultant. I run my own business; Paramount Professional Services Ltd which was formed in 2009. After many years working in business and IT consulting, I formed the Company to help my clients with programmes of change and transformation. We focus on initial system selection, through to design and configuration and eventually on to the implementation of business-critical IT systems after appropriate testing and training of staff. Organisational Change Management (the people side of it) is also a key component of what we do.
Why did you choose the industry that you are in?
I love bringing about positive change by exploiting the use of ever emerging new technologies. It’s very exciting and rewarding.
How did you get to the position you are now?
Hard work, enthusiasm, total honesty even if it’s bad news and finally a passion for what I do. Alongside that, the many awesome teams I have had the pleasure to lead and work with. It’s really all about people.
What are your proudest achievements?
Winning several awards for historical projects I have led and delivered over the years in my career as well as mentoring others in the early stages of their careers.
Starting my own business in 2009 which has been very successful, marrying my husband and building a lovely welcoming home.
Also, the work that I continue to do for Weimaraner Dog Rescue and giving back to the community via charity.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Wow, I found this tough in the early years – it was the failure of my first marriage as I was spending 8 months out of 12 out of the country and was totally driven. I have learnt. Communication with my husband is key, as projects are not always 9 – 5 Mon-Fri. Set time aside for my family time - and stick to it!
What qualifications helped you to get where you are?
To be honest none of them. Real life experience is the key. I have continued to build my portfolio of professional accreditations over the years but there is really a no better replacement for hands-on experience and a good role model/mentor in my own opinion.
What barriers have you faced in your career?
My working career started in the late 1980s and I found myself in the warehousing and logistics arena. It was my passion and I started at the bottom as goods inwards clerk in a very busy FMCG distribution centre. All of the clerks were female and all of the warehouse operatives were male, a very clear demarcation. This was a very male-dominated environment at this time and my early recollections were that I had to work very hard and diligently to prove my worth and to highlight what I could contribute, especially to my male counterparts.
What motivated you to keep going?
My passion, drive and determination to reach my goals and objectives were my prime motivators. You have to earn respect and support from those around you, irrespective of gender or social standing.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self now?
Professionalism, honesty and integrity in all that you do will always win the day. Irrespective of age, gender or lifestyle always treat others around you with empathy and respect. In times of difficulty or adversity always focus on the facts and try and keep emotion out of it.
Finally, what three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
Be clear on your goals and objectives
Always act with integrity, honesty and professionalism
Do not be sidelined or intimidated.