Inspirational Woman: Paula Kennedy Garcia | Vice President, European Markets, Convergys

Paula Kennedy Garcia

Digital evangelist and champion of outsourcing, Paula is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years of experience in global customer management and is reshaping success for Convergys Europe, transforming and growing successful partnerships three times stronger than the average market performance over the past three years, through strategic growth of global partnerships and acquisition of new.

Paula is a recognized influencer for gender equality in the industry, founder and Global Lean In Chapter Leader for Convergys and apostle for progressive female leadership and mentoring with local bodies for diversity.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Digital evangelist and champion of outsourcing, Paula is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years of experience in global customer management. Current role of Vice President has responsibility for growing European business for the organisation, which she has seen trend-bucking success three times stronger than the average market performance over the past three years achieved via strategic growth of global partnerships and acquisition of new. Paula is a recognized influencer for gender equality in the industry, founder and Global Lean In Chapter Leader for Convergys and apostle for progressive female leadership and mentoring with local bodies for diversity.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I started in the industry in a rather unplanned way, over 20 years ago at entry level to fund travel after my student days and, I guess, as I figured out what I wanted to do next. So I really think my career found me – I was in an exciting place where opportunity to grow and travel was readily available if you had ambition and passion and I ticked both boxed and excelled in something I quickly realised I loved. The planning came once I was begin to progress in early management – how to diversify my skills, navigate the organisation and map my desire to work internationally but always have my voice and value, noticed.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

As a female in leadership the challenge evolved over time and was something I became aware with hindsight, rather than at the time. I look back and think I was naïve to believe that equality existed everywhere. What was more true was that I was very fortunate to have great mentors and sponsors through my career and, as my progress started at the stage of organisations where male/female roles were more balanced, I didn’t anticipate how that would shift as I moved above Director level. A passion and motivation strength was suddenly seen as overt or too-assertive and it took time for me to understand that I was still the talent that had been seen in me, but I needed to adapt to other skills and not necessarily stamp mine out and change.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

For a more proactive effort to be placed on balance for new roles, insist on more female applications. I am a firm believer in the best person for the job we need to look at life through the female lens to see just how much we might put obstacles in our own way, through confidence, and how a nudge to try could really be a win/win for everyone.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I am a huge advocate for mentoring and I am both a mentor and a mentee. My personal mentors in the past have all been men but, you know, I never really considered at the time that it was probably a result of there not being enough senior females in roles to pick up that gauntlet. Mentoring plays a huge role for success and change, but it is something men and women need to collaborate on to improve and develop the next generation of talent.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It’s hard to put a flag at specific places, because my career has been a journey of progress and every milestone has been the very pivot to the next. My current job feels great to do every day, and that is because as a team we have surpassed all expectation of performance and success and the horizon looks to continue to grow beyond that, again. But that success is down to the great team I lead and I could not do it without every one of them.

Alongside the day job, I took this year to step up and truly champion gender parity and equalism, however. I have always been engaged but I needed to not be a bystander and to move to the front of the charge and influence – founding Lean In for Convergys has been amazing and we have already established over 25 lean in Circles in just six months. The future is very promising.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I am a huge Digital evangelist, and ever-curious on what the future holds for us in a digital age. My career will follow this path way and alongside it, I hope to make a real mark and voice in what that means for the workforce of the future, where diversity is the new norm. I am also more and more involved with NED roles in new start ups and local charity, which is a great parallel avenue for me to give back and learn as I do.

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