The Women in Media Awards are back for 2018! To celebrate this wonderful fact, and to recognise some of the killer women in our industry, we’ve created a women in media series – and have profiled some pretty inspiring women so far.
Last week we spoke to Alison Michalk from Quiip, and now it’s time for you to meet the inspiring Karen Halligan from KPMG!
What was the best advice you were ever given?
I have been fortunate to have received a few killer pieces of advice.
One of the the first was given to me very early on, when Pam Lane told me “don’t do the job you are in – do the one you want. If you make yourself redundant in the old role and fundamental to the next role, you will get that opportunity.”
Another gem has that’s stuck with me: “people leave bosses not jobs”, something that has made me think really hard about type of leader I want to be.
What women do you find inspiring?
I find a lot of women inspiring for multiple reasons.
I was a very lucky woman to have had a working role model in my mother. When I was growing up she was one of the few mums that worked full time and also travelled. At the time I felt a bit ripped off, but I have come to realise it was a fundamental part of building my resilience.
Outside of mum, and maybe because of her, I have huge respect for trailblazers, women who take on challenges in areas that are new frontiers.
If I have to name individuals, on the high profile front I would name Sandra Sandberg – not because of her work on Lean In, but more on her approach to resilience post the impromptu death of her husband.
I have also been lucky to have had a great female mentor in Anne Parsons, an ex-agency exec who despite living overseas always seems to find time for me.
What’s changed in your role since you started?
This is a tough question to answer as I never like to stand still. So much has changed since I started in media.
Recently, after many years in media agencies, client and media owner roles, I have moved into the management consulting space at KPMG. What has been interesting is how different it is from what I expected. It is incredibly exciting to be surrounded by people with such a diverse set of skills. Here I have the ability to identify and leverage a broad range of experts and that is quite inspiring.
I feel as though I have learnt more here in four months than I did over the last few years.
What’s your proudest professional moment?
It’s hard to answer with one moment as there have been so many great moments over the years, but the one thing I am seriously grateful for is the privilege to have been able to mentor and help develop people.
There are a number of people that I have spent a lot of time with (some for a few years). To see them moving into senior roles, and to have been able to play a small part supporting their professional journey, makes me me very proud.
What’s the most exciting thing about women working in senior leadership roles?
The most exciting thing about seeing more senior women in leadership roles is we see that it can be done – that we can address the imbalance within our industry.
When young women see the real-life inspiration of female leaders succeeding, it show them what their future can hold.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learnt in or out of the workforce?
Sometimes life isn’t fair. Don’t fight it, just accept it and move on.
What advice would you give to young aspiring women?
Surround yourself with positive and motivated people.
Naysayers and negativity makes you the same, it is better to believe anything is possible and hunt it down, no-one hands you anything, the good stuff needs to be earned and that means working hard.
Why are women vital to your industry?
Women are vital to every industry. Only through a balanced workplace at every level and industry can we create true equality.
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