[email protected] – Karen Stanford

GreenKite co-Founder & COO Karen Stanford talks about her GreenKite Journey

As a founder of GreenKite, there from the very beginning, it is exciting to see the continuous evolution of the GreenKite products, brand, people and culture. 3 years on, the progress we have made as a team is significant, the business is moving from strength to strength but life at GK wasn’t always that easy.

When setting up a business from scratch you have a vision of the type of company you’d like to create, but how you get there is the risky and uncertain bit.  You have to take a leap of faith, accept that you might make the wrong decision for the right reason but that ultimately everything you do will help you get to where you want to be.

On starting this journey, I took a risk by reducing my hours in a comfortable permanent job and stepping into the unknown.  I didn’t know whether we as a founding team could do this, I wasn’t entirely sure we had the right mix of skillsets, backing or support, and we definitely didn’t have enough money to sustain us for very long.  All we had was a vision, a detailed understanding of what we would be looking for in a boutique consultancy, our contacts and a sense of humour.

Like most COO roles in insurance, defining your day job is tricky as you are problem solving everyday, working through the unexpected challenges which present as well as trying to focus on the strategic angle of your business.  This has definitely been the toughest job of my career to date as there is so much to do and a roll your sleeves up and get stuck in mentality is essential.  Having both an internal and external role allows me to really understand what our clients need from our engagement and work towards delivering best in class service.  As clients are key this often means some of the internal activities suffer however as we are starting to grow our internal functions, processes are becoming more robust which allow us to scale at a greater pace.

What I’ve learnt in my 3 years at GK its to believe in your own abilities, surround yourself with people who believe in what we are doing, lean on your connections and recognise and reward the people that excel in their roles.   Good people want to work with good people and we are in the process of building a team who want to work, think and operate differently.  If you don’t have the right people around you, in a consultancy business, people are your differentiator, and you cannot build a successful business without them.

This role and business is personal, working with friends and former colleagues, building a business I really care about. Trying to maintain objectivity, challenge and manage alternative viewpoints is difficult when you are so personally involved, however the personal and professional growth I am going through is immense and gives me a real sense of satisfaction and keeps me going even on the difficult days.

Now I’m off to write another article, QA a client report, attend 3 different client meetings, sign off bank payments, update the 5 year business plan, undertake some 121’s, recruit a new starter, ensure a successful induction, chase up an outstanding RFP, do some business development and anything else that comes across my desk this afternoon.


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