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International Women's Day 2024 Q&A with...Kelly Wright

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day 2024, we’ve spoken to members of our senior leadership team about their career motivation, inspiration and advice for the next generation. Today we're hearing from Kelly Wright, Director - People & Development.

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IWD Kelly Wright

What’s your biggest career achievement?

I decided quite early on in my working life that I wanted to build a career in HR. I wanted to study for my CIPD (the qualification for HR professionals) but my employer at the time was unable to sponsor me. I refused to allow this to put me off and decided to invest in myself as I knew this would be an important step in my career. I borrowed some money and used it to pay for my course. It was a challenging time for me as I was also planning my wedding, but I managed to complete my studies and it served as the start of exciting changes in my career and the basis of my knowledge in my field. It demonstrated to prospective employers that I was serious about my career.

What was your first job?

My first job was working as a Recruitment Administrator working for a recruitment agency. It was a small firm and I was exposed to numerous people looking for work. It was fast-paced, exciting work and I had to be very organised to ensure I could keep up with the demands of the job.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to younger women in business?

Embrace the moment! 

Traditional boardroom thinking is being challenged, and day by day the way businesses are run is changing.  There is still some work to do but generally, people are encouraged to think differently, be creative and take ownership.

The business world is more open to diversity than it ever was before. In my early career, success looked a certain way. It was loud, brash, and pushy. It wasn’t me. These days, success comes in more forms and there is more than enough room for you to find a space for yourself.

I encourage others to take the opportunity to be the change you want to see, build some courage, and do the thing that you think needs to be done. When you take on something new, it’s important to be clear on what you are trying to achieve, engage people along the way, seek feedback, share your ideas with a senior sponsor and then communicate and implement your plan. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for permission - take the initiative and embrace the moment!

What motivates you in your career?

I am a purpose-driven person and so I really enjoy talking to people about their visions for their careers or their teams. I love supporting people by talking through what they need to do to achieve their goals. This includes understanding what they can change and what is outside of their area of influence. Following this, it’s brainstorming ideas around how to encourage change, getting commitments for change, and agreeing on what steps to put in place to monitor and review this. 

I get a real sense of achievement from feeling like I’m making a difference. I like to know that the work I do is impactful and can help to unlock something in someone that helps them to change their perspective, which then provides a meaningful shift in their thought process and behaviour.

Is there a female leader that you particularly admire?  Why?

Serena Williams is an inspiring female leader who has made a significant impact on the world of tennis. Along with her sister, Venus, she challenged the predominately white world of tennis with her strength and athleticism.  She fought against stereotypes and claims of too much masculinity and encouraged women to embrace their power.

She pushed against fashion constraints to express her identity and fought against racism to pave the way for other black women like Coco Gauff to make their way in tennis.

Serena Williams is one of the most recognisable names in sports, successfully dominating the tennis world by winning 23 Grand Slam women’s singles titles and is the only player to accomplish a career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles.  

For more of our International Women's Day 2024 Q&A's, click here.

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