Tuesday 16th March 2021
In this month’s blog, we meet Katie Williams, Business Partner at Optivo to hear more about how sometimes you need to step sideways to step up, why it’s ok to ask questions and how you don’t need to be an expert in everything.
Katie began her career in housing as a Repairs Advisor more than 16 years ago and is now a Business Partner at Optivo. Sharing how she was often asked how she’d progressed so far in the sector, Katie shared her journey and her top tips along the way.
Sometimes you need to step sideways.
Early in Katie’s career she found her day job offered few occasions to acquire new skills and aid career progression. She sought out opportunities to get involved with additional projects including a department process review. This helped raise Katie’s profile in the business exposing her to senior decision makers.
The opportunity then arose to be South East Consortium’s first employee as a Technical Administrator and from there she developed the role to set up the organisation’s training stream before moving to a new role as Performance Manager. With an interest in analysis, the role was perfect, giving Katie the chance to stretch her skills and show what she was capable of. Whilst it wasn’t the route she had expected, it proved to be invaluable in showcasing skills, expertise and ability to lead, manage and execute a project.
It’s ok to ask questions
With five years’ experience under her belt at SEC, Katie took on her next role as Procurement Manager at what was AmicusHorizon and was responsible for procuring contracts goods and services, assessing value for money and also designing and implementing cost/quality evaluation methods amongst other activities.
Whilst Katie shared that she had always believed it was ok to ask questions, no matter when or where. Katie told us
“I’m very comfortable asking an obvious question or being the first to do so. I think we can be overly concerned with what others may think and it holds us back. My advice would be, don’t be, because your honesty and desire to learn will shine through.”
“Recognising your skills is key. We should feel confident to share when we don’t understand. When people ‘fake it to make it’ is often when projects de-rail and so I’d be much happier to identify gaps in my knowledge and work to my skillset. Asking for help supports the development of an open and collaborative culture”
You don’t need to be an expert in everything
As a Procurement Manager for five years, Katie truly believes that you don’t need to be an expert in everything. Transparency is key here and Katie notes that she was mindful in meetings around subjects that were, and weren’t expected to be her area of expertise.
“Remember why you’re in that meeting or involved in that project. You’re there to represent your sector and bring your knowledge. Concentrate on sharing your specialist expertise, really understanding what you’re bringing to the table and what you want out of that meeting.”
Outside of Katie’s role as Business Partner she’s a mum to two children, is passionate about promoting respect, opportunity, unity and diversity and was Interim Chair of Optivo’s LGBTQ+ Networking Group.
If you’re a WISH South East member and would like to be featured in our ‘Meet our Members’ series, please get in touch by contacting WISH SE Board Member Victoria Archer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.