In last week’s #WomenInTech post, I introduced you to Emma Davenport, our Marketing Manager. For today’s Monday Motivation, I’m introducing you to Paula Keogh, our VP & Sector Lead for Higher Education & Heritage.
Q1. Hi Paula, can you tell us a bit about what do you do at Arkivum? What does a typical day look like?
I’m the VP of Sales and a sector specialist for research and heritage. To dispel an immediate myth; Sales people don’t actually spend their day selling! A good 90% of my life is spent listening to people with problems to solve. So, a typical day involves travelling to a research organisation or an archival special collection to talk about their data management and digital preservation needs. I spend a lot of my time problem solving and it’s one of the most interesting ways to spend a day I can think of!
Q2. What attracted you to the role at Arkivum?
I’ve spent over 15 years in tech sales to do a bit of good in the world – hence the reason why I’d never be able to work for a tobacco company or somewhere that’s a heavy polluter, I’ve got to really believe in the solution and in the company. What’s better than knowing the work I’m doing is helping (in a small way) to preserve unrepeatable research or irreplaceable historical documents for future generations? That’s all the motivation I need!
Q3. Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into it?
I’d guess that unless you have a real vocation in life and you want to be a firefighter, artist, surgeon etc., not many of us know precisely where we want to end up! So I can’t claim that technology was something I’d always wanted to pursue, but I was always going to make sure I was working with data in some way. I started in this industry studying part-time for an Information degree whilst running a record office in a top 4 UK accountancy firm. I knew that I wanted to have ample opportunity to be active in a community trying to improve things in some way and that’s the definition of great technology.
The most accurate description of how I got into tech was a steady migration from information work to embracing the opportunity technology gave us at the time (the mid 2000s) to dramatically improve both our understanding and our ability to manage data and to bridge the gap between analogue and digital information. It’s just so fascinating!
Q4. What’s the best part of being a Woman in Tech? And the worst?
Whatever your gender, we’re all working hard to get great results, but I’m happy to be redressing the balance by making sure women choosing their careers don’t discount any of the options out there.
Worst thing? Well, it’s sometime annoying when people assume on email that my name is Paul!
Q5. How do you keep physically and mentally fit?
I’ve developed mental resilience to deal with rejection and enable me to move on quickly. That’s key in a technical sales role. It’s important to learn, not blame. And physical fitness … do marathon chocolate eating sessions count?!
Q6. Who are your influencers?
As I can sometimes spend a lot of time driving, I listen to audio books. Non-fiction books I’ve listened to in the last 12 months include Bad Blood by John Carreyrou which I highly recommend, To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink, Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
I’m also influenced by the colleagues I worked with as I forged my career. Noeleen Schenk, my first boss in the field of data management and also Karen Reece, who I worked very closely with for a decade in IT software. They not only taught me the mixture of art and science that makes the best consultative salesperson, but critically, that being a female leader in tech is a very normal thing.
Q7. How do you keep up to date with the fast paced tech evolution?
You have to be prepared to read all the time – be that a few sentences on Twitter or a weightier tome. Committing to your continual learning in your spare time it also key as keeping abreast of this industry is not a 9-5 activity. It’s important to use tools to streamline that process so I still use RSS feeds to keep up to date without suffering information overload. Having an engaged group of colleagues who regularly say to each other ‘have you seen this?’ helps enormously too!
Q8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio.
Q9. What’s next for you?
2019 is filled with visits to more cool archives and research facilities. I can literally be in a Harry Potter-esque library one day, a white-coat filled research lab the next and then on a tour of a national museum’s back room collections the next. It’s an awesome job!
Next week, I’ll be introducing you to Shirisha Veereti, our HR & Administrator.
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