On International Women’s Day we celebrate the achievements of women and their contribution to forging a gender equal world. We asked our Chief Operating Officer, Vicky Kelsall, to share her inspiring career journey and advice with the next generation of aspiring leaders.
Can you tell us about your role and the impact your work is having on the business and wider society?
As Chief Operating Officer for SP Energy Networks my primary role is to support the organization in what and how we invest in our transmission and distribution network ensuring its resilience and safe operation. A big element of what I do is ensure we deliver service through highly skilled people in a high quality, efficient way; satisfying our customers, stakeholders and wider society.
Tell us about your career journey. How did you get to the position you are in now?
I started with the company straight from school and have held a number of senior leadership positions in the UK and internationally. I have always worked in a Customer Service capacity and while my current role seems a bit of a departure from that, the reality is that everyone in our company delivers for our customers and communities. I have now been with the company for more than 30 years and I like to think that I am seen as a hard worker with a passion for delivering excellent service and delivering value for our customers.
The theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’. What do you choose to challenge? How are you driving change through your role?
I have had a successful career because I have worked hard and have been open to learning, adapting and improving myself. I challenge ‘you’ to stand up for yourself. Don’t accept being ignored but don’t think that life just falls in your lap. You have to work hard and prove yourself but should not accept being ignored or side-lined when you are equally or even more qualified (knowledge and experience). I know that in my position I am out there to be judged but I try to be a role model and lead the way in being present, being generous with my time and doing the right thing for our people in SP Energy Networks, our customers and our stakeholders.
What are your top tips for someone who aspires to be in a similar role in the future?
Don’t create your own barriers. I’ve never thought I couldn’t do something just because I am a woman. I’ve experienced bias and worked through it to prove myself. The thing I am encouraged by is that people are less likely, these days, to let bias happen without at least challenging it. I know that I am more confident now to challenge any kind of bias which comes with experience but also that we are talking about it more and are more open about what isn’t acceptable to us!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Try not to take everything so seriously. You don’t always have to be first, fastest, best etc etc! Try and take all of your holidays and look after yourself!