It is week 5 of my interview series #Smashthatceiling #womeninspiringwomen , my attempt to provide other women with visible leadership role models and this week is the turn of Karen Green a food mentor, business mentor ,speaker, regular guest lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and author ( her book coming out in Decmber - Recipe for Success - is aimed at food preeners and MDs of SME food manufacturing businesses wanting to improve their business and grow it to the next level and covers brand development, marketing, negotiation and so on - sounds like the perfect Christmas present to me ;-p ).
I didn't think I could meet someone who is as passionate about food and helping businesses as I am but I did; she is a foodie ( she is a judge for the Great Taste and Quality Food Awards)” and a woman who has turned her passion into business , an entrepreneur - my idea of #thewomanalchemist indeed.
1. When you were a child what was your dream job and why?
I really wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. My father wanted me to a bilingual secretary but I wanted something more glamorous – my daughter is now at medical school as I found the science A levels too challenging and so went a business route instead .
2. Can you tell me the time that you started to consider yourself successful?
I was told by my line manager at Boots that I was rubbish and wouldn’t amount to anything (I still have the appraisal) and then I was given a new manager and she mentored and developed me. I was promoted to buyer for Vitamins which was the most coveted buyers job in Boots and I felt very proud and successful and after that I really flew .
3. I’m sure like every business/business person you have faced adversity: how do you motivate yourself and force through the worst times?
I have studied mental toughness and through that process have learnt many techniques for keeping going. My top 3 would be:
- great supportive network of friends and business mentors who keep me on the right road
- my achievements log – every so often I do a log of what I have done that I am proud of so that I can take a quick read when it becomes a little bit challenging
- Visualisation and meditation techniques – I have learnt a few simple tricks for solving the immediate stresses e.g. pre important client meetings etc.
4. What are the best things about your job?
I work with a variety of clients now on short and long term projects. The best thing is getting a new product launched on shelf -whether that is a small start up brand or and own label product that may have been two years in the making.
I also love mentoring people and seeing them grow from a personal point of view
5. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues” : what are you daily/weekly habits?
- Sleep - I am early to bed, early to rise so try and keep to this routine and get as much sleep as possible
- Exercise - I get my best work done in the first hour of the day and then will do some form of exercise – either running or yoga. I live part of the time in France and need to get out early before it gets really hot.
- Eating well – I love food but also love to ensure that I get a great balance diet – I cannot function without regular meals!
- Personal development – I am ALWAYS learning – at the moment, I am launching my book “Recipe for success” and so am learning about publishing, social media and book promotion techniques.
6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
One of the biggest issues for women is childcare – when a woman has first baby, she can go back to work and the cost of childcare is less than her salary. If she has a second baby, then that cost/benefit equation becomes more complicated. Some successful women have a husband who takes the strain but I do think that the interruption to working career can be detrimental.
For me however, I have not really found this to be so much of a challenge but I only took 4 months for each of my children.
The other barrier other than the obvious male domination at the top and glass ceiling is in female heads. Termed the imposter syndrome, so many successful women I know deep down don’t believe they should be there and so don’t necessarily have the chutzpah to go for the big jobs. I am sure there is some research which shows that if women read a job ad they will apply if they have all the requirements and men if they have a third (or some such figure!)
7. What women inspire you and why?
Emma Jones at Entreprise nation is a very strong character who does a great job for start ups – she has been very helpful to me and is the best networker I know
My mum – she was a stay at home mum until my dad died when I was 21 and then she got involved in saving Greenham common from being built on and ensured it went back to common land when the Americans left. In recognition of her work, Newbury designated a field and called it Audrey’s meadow. Inspirational late developer!
8. What advice would you give to your 16year old self?
Enjoy life and don’t be in such a rush!!
Believe in yourself, you are way better than you think
Follow your dreams and don’t let others talk you out of it
9. Your instant mindfulness fix…
Concentrating on breathing – listening and feeling each breath coming in and out – easy to do anywhere and calming in about 2 minutes!
10. And finally something frivolous: best thing about being a woman…
Being able to flirt your way out of things!!
Top Takeaways from Karen
Believe in yourself - You are way better than you think!
Keep an achievement log for when things get though.
Keep a supportive network of friends and business mentors to keep you on track.
Invest in your personal development - ALWAYS learn
Enjoy life - Don't be in such a rush!
If you aim to make your career in food, either corporate or found your own business, Karen is the perfect go-to mentor/role model.
See you next week with the next interview x