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Women in Leadership Series: Karen O'Flaherty, COO Ireland

Leading by example, Chief Operations Officer of our Irish business, Karen O'Flaherty, shares her career story.


Who am I? Karen O’Flaherty, Chief Operations Officer, Morgan McKinley, Ireland. I have a role that is both challenging and exciting in one of the industries that is transforming, like so many others as the global evolution of communication and technology evolves.

What do you want to do when you grow up? It sticks in my memory as a question often asked of me and my younger sister from an early age, by well intentioned adults. My sister would quickly respond saying she wanted to be a doctor and study medicine, which lead them to looking at me hopefully, to which I would simply shrug my shoulders. I honestly had no idea.

Growing up in the Middle East and moving schools many times through national and secondary education certainly didn’t assist me in choosing a vocation. However, it did give me a thirst for understanding people, cultures and traditions. The diversification of education, the expectation of jobs for different genders and the cultural inequality of the roles people were employed to do was overwhelming.

The sound advice I was given, was find what you are good at and pursue it. You are likely to be more successful at something you enjoy. Good advice I offer to anyone to this day. However, what excited and challenged me with the direction my career eventually took, wasn’t specifically the choice of job, but the people I met along the way, the skills I chose to develop and the potential I thought I could realise by working and learning from them.

I have now worked for over 16 years in the same industry with some exceptional people, however, the constant throughout that time has been my desire to develop and improve. Influencing positive change through people is hugely fulfilling and I strive to ensure that I challenge myself to get better at this on a daily basis. I didn’t find recruitment, it found me thankfully.

As COO of the Irish business of Morgan McKinley, the organisation and not the job has allowed me to develop into the person I am. I consider myself very fortunate because I genuinely love my job. However, I am very aware of my failings, strengths and weaknesses and my mantra so far, is what I lack in ability, I’ll make up for in hard work.

Despite the stress and work load, I can honestly say that I am a better, happier person because of what I do with the team of people I work with. Being fortunate enough to have a job you like with an organisation that you love reaps many rewards but self respect and self worth cannot be underestimated.

I therefore feel very qualified to encourage the team of people I work with that we need to do whatever is required to match the right people with the right role because it has a life enhancing effect when you get it right. We value in Morgan McKinley, the need to ‘Go Beyond’ because that match, like any good relationship, can take time and effort. The symbiotic benefit of key talent in the right roles for organisations has made good companies great and great individuals remarkable.

It doesn’t have to be the dream job at all times either for many people because just having a job in itself is a right that should not be denied. Hence why it’s no surprise that topping all government parties’ policy is job creation and improving employment with the evident social and economic benefits it provides.

The jobs today, are not necessarily the jobs of the future but the skill set and the experience you acquire now are transferable and necessary in making that transition into the unknown.

So, unlike my sister who now saves people’s lives, I hope that in some small way, I and the team in Morgan McKinley, save and make future careers, despite the fact it’s impossible to know what that future might look like.

Dr O’Flaherty!

  • Mar 03, 2015
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