Recently, we had the privilege of listening to an inspiring talk lead by Karin Priarollo, PPG HR director for the EMEA region at the Share Service Center in Brno, Czech Republic, focused on her career journey and lessons learned.
“When I first started working – with Procter&Gamble in HR – I thought it was a nice job, but I assumed I would eventually move on to travel the world, go to university or do something else. However, I found myself loving what I do more and more. After 35 years, I’m still in HR!”
Karin had worked with five other companies before joining PPG in 2015. These roles gave her the chance to live in France, USA, Switzerland, Singapore and Germany! She considers herself incredibly lucky. She has an amazing job, family and husband.
But she is aware of the many obstacles and stereotypes women have to overcome to have a career and to combine work and life. This is why she is personally invested in PPG’s diversity & inclusion efforts and incredibly proud of the work done by the Women Leadership Council.
Companies – and governments – must continue to make it easier for women to have a career and combine work and home life. We are working hard at PPG to move the needle. Although it is not an easy task – there is still a long road to go.
Karin thinks both women and men should dream big.
We, as women, tend to plan our careers one step at the time. Let me get to this level, see how I do, see how it works for me and then plan the next move. While being thoughtful is good, the issue with that is that we may miss out. Dream big! Trust yourself to figure out how you will deal with challenges as and when they occur.
She also advises women to use their voices more often. “Talk about what you want to do - with your manager, HR, key stakeholders,” she says. “If they don’t know what you want it is difficult for them to help you reach your dreams.”“I didn’t go to university when I was young, I am doing a PhD now. I moved around the world – with small children in tow at some point – and into a leadership position hoping to make a positive impact with my work. Who would have thought? I didn’t have the perfect plan but it happened, because I wasn’t scared to think big."
Make It Work for You
While nurturing a successful career, Karin also began building her family. Having kids while climbing up the work ladder and studying for a degree is challenging at times, but definitely doable, she says.
“I know there are stereotypes about working mothers and real challenges to combine work and family. My son was born in France where it is perfectly acceptable for women to work. Switzerland is a deeply conservative country and I found it difficult initially to deal with some of the stereotypes I was faced with when moving back. After some time I figured that I needed to find a way which works for me and my family. I suggest you do the same. Ask yourself: does it work for you? Are you & your family happy? If yes, don’t care about what others say!”
Find Time for Yourself
As a successful female leader, Karin realizes how maintaining balance is important for a sustainable lifestyle – you should always take time for yourself. “I know, when I need time for myself. If it is writing, horseback riding or just relaxing, I always find time to stop and treat myself. When you are happy, the people around you are happy.”
Make the Most Out of Work
Karin says that work has always been an important part of her life – for her, it’s been about learning, growing, adventure, making a difference and working with great people. “We spend so much time at work – make it count and find meaning in what you do.”
However, this only works if you find the right environment. For Karin, company culture is very important.
Find a company that is aligned with your values and where you can flourish.
Build & Nurture Relationships
Building and nurturing relationships with people is key for self and career development. Karin says that these relationships extend beyond one’s boss and include peers, mentors and internal and external networks. “I value my network of other professionals in similar roles as mine. It’s good to have someone you can ask for advice and who understands the challenges you face.”
Setbacks Happen – Deal with It, Learn from It
Of course, failures happen to everybody. But we don’t talk enough about them. We should discuss them more and learn how to deal with them. You can only grow if you accept failure and learn from it.
Build Thicker But Permeable Skin
As you take on more responsibility, you need to develop a thicker skin. Everyone will have an opinion of what you do, should do, not do, do differently. It is important that you know what you stand and deal with the consequences of your decisions. It is equally important though to seek and act on feedback. Sometimes it isn’t what you want to hear, but it helps you to ‘reset’ the clock.
Thankfulness and Generosity Never Stop Learning!
I am thankful for the opportunities I had and for working for a good company with good people, doing meaningful work. It is important to me to do the same for others and be generous in sharing my time, knowledge and advice.
The best advice Karin would give is to never stop being curious and hungry for knowledge. This is also probably the most important thing for her. “Constantly learning is the motor of my career and actually my life. There is still so much to learn, discover and do,” she says.