Listen to the podcast (FULL TRANSCRIPT):
Level Up is a podcast for anyone interested in improving their leadership skills. The series is designed to help you get to know the leaders of Experian and gain insight into the skills needed to grow your career.
Most recently, we spoke with Karen Whitney, Vice President and Head of Talent for Experian, North America. Karen has oversight for all North American talent initiatives across the employee lifecycle including performance management, employee development, leadership and high potential development, succession management, change management, organizational development and culture and engagement.
Here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Karen:
Be energized by and connected to your work.
Like Karen said, “Is there purpose in my work?” is a question you’ll likely ask yourself throughout numerous points in your life. That’s why it’s important to find ways to put your whole self into what you do. When you feel energized about your job, it’s easier to see where you fit and how you’re contributing to the organization.
There is no innovation without diversity.
Not much convincing has to be done on behalf of diversity and inclusion because it makes a business case for itself! As Karen pointed out, if you are part of an organization that values innovation and growth, there can be no such thing if everyone on the team comes from the same background and experience. Diversity is innovation.
There is no greater power than the Power of You.
A motto Experian lives by is the Power of You. This means that the more opportunity you have to bring your whole self to work, the more room there is for Experian to grow and thrive together. Karen is a huge believer in bringing you, who you are, your background, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your hobbies and everything else that makes you you to work. Suppressing your authenticity is a good way to suppress your potential.
Know that the way people view you will often change.
When Karen was first promoted into a director role, she had to acclimate to stepping into a leadership role over team members who were once peers. At some point in your career, you may become a leader to someone that was a friend, that you confided in, that you regularly had lunch with, etc. It’s okay to continue to appreciate that relationship, but it’s important to be clear with your peers about what exactly it is they’re going to see from you differently now that you’re their leader. Structure takes some time to build, but approaching leadership with honesty always make it easier!
Be aware of your impact on others.
It takes a good leader to be able to put ego aside and read the room properly. Karen advises you ask yourself if the people around you are receiving information well, if what you’re saying is landing, if there are questions, etc. The better you can read the people around you and the impact you have on them, the easier it is for you to jive with your team.
You will never have complete “work/life balance.”
Because when you think about it, work is part of life, right? Instead of aiming to achieve perfect balance, we should be trying our best to incorporate it wherever we can. Maybe you leave work a little early to take a yoga class then return home and work a little more. Maybe you stay a little later at work today for a deadline and you work remotely tomorrow. Whatever it is, balance isn’t permanent but there are ways we can make sure we enjoy it wherever we can.
We were so happy to have the opportunity to chat with Karen for Level Up.