On a Monday evening you might find Karen wandering the showgrounds of the Hills Dog Club with a few dogs and their owners. So, is she really a dog whisperer?
Well, she refers to herself as a ‘dog-owner trainer.’ Rather than training dogs, she helps the dog’s owners learn how to train their own dogs.
When she’s not training dog owners or motorbike riding, she is an IT whizz.
Karen has been working in the IT industry for over 20 years. Karen chose a career in IT despite being aware that 20 years ago IT was a male dominated industry. It took some courage, some training and a passion for continuous learning and Karen is now well and truly an experienced IT support professional.
She recently joined the Correct Solutions family, so we thought we’d grab a bite and ask her about life.
What was your best ‘dog-trainer’ training moment?
The best story I have is about a 50kg mastiff named Angus that is very scared of people.
I spent 6 months slowly building his trust in me by not making eye contact, and leaving my hand out with a treat in it. He slowly started taking the treat, then he started letting me touch him under the chin without looking at him. Slowly, he allowed me look at him and touch him on the back.
Now he comes when I call him and he is best friends with my dog and treats my house as more of his own than his actual home.
Now that we know a bit about Karen’s awesome dog-training abilities, let’s talk a bit about IT.
Have you faced challenges as a female in IT?
There have been instances in the past where I have been underestimated as a female. It can be challenging when you need to ‘prove’ that you are just as capable of fixing a technical problem as a man is. However, I have been trying to change these perceptions throughout my career. I’m glad that the IT industry is making progress in recent years in regards to hiring women and in adopting more gender diverse workplaces.
How do women add value to the IT industry?
Women look at things in a different way. Sometimes when there is a problem, I can come at it from a different angle. I find that women are often better with soft skills, body language and offer empathy to clients.
Giving IT the soft skills and the communication skills and giving IT a human face is really important.
I’m outgoing, I’m female. I’m definitely not Sheldon Cooper. I don’t seem like an IT person, but I am and that helps to change stereotypes.
Are businesses leveraging the power of technology?
It gives me great satisfaction knowing that technology plays such a big role in helping to grow businesses. While many companies still view IT as an expense, there are many more companies realising that IT protects their intellectual property and taking the initiative to invest in IT.
What is your most memorable IT achievement?
Whilst I have had so many career experiences and worked with businesses around the world in different industries, one of the most memorable achievements is not what you would expect.
Outside of my career, I train mature aged people to use computers. My oldest student is 98 years old! It’s such a great feeling when someone who has never used a computer learns how to use it.
One of my fondest achievements was helping a guy in his 60’s learn how to use skype. He had never before used a computer and when he first skyped his brother in South Africa, the look on his face was priceless. It is fantastic to be able to use my knowledge to help empower others to keep in touch with their families overseas.
Any Life Advice?
In life, you don’t need to know everything, but you need to know how to ask. Whether it’s dog training, teaching or work, always be humble enough to ask for help so that you can reach your potential.
Karen at a dog-training seminar