Coffee break with… Aileen Kent, Director of Delivery and Strategic Transformation
Joining Reed Online as Head of Delivery back in 2018, the next 2 years saw Aileen promoted into the position Director of Delivery and Strategic Transformation – a position which requires touch points across many departments at Reed Online (reed.co.uk), but most closely aligned with Product and Engineering.
On the theme of inspirational women, who has inspired you?
I am genuinely surrounded by so many inspirational women, in my place of work, my family and my friends. However, for me the biggest inspiration as a female role model has been my mother.
The work ethic and mindset of my mother impacted me from a young age and has had a strong influence on who I am today. A remarkable woman, who ran her own business, has six children, and took the lead in running the household. Instilled in me from a very young age was the notion that I could be independent; I could choose what path to follow. I never felt I had to be dragged to the table to study – I was there because I wanted to be.
I was encouraged to travel, experience what the world had to offer and, whilst my Mother had a successful business herself, she wasn’t degree-educated and so was a big advocate for further education.
Now in her 80’s my mother is still actively curious. She’s attending webinars, enrolling on courses, and pre-covid was travelling as much as ever. The most inspiring trait is that she doesn’t allow anything to limit her – a mindset I think we can all aspire to.
What support have you had at Reed Online?
When I was brought into Reed Online, I instantly felt from my Managing Director that I was trusted to get on with my job. That might seem small, but when employers are looking at how best to support their teams, trust is one of the most important aspects. You must trust that the person you have brought in to do the work is capable and then trust them to deliver.
Being able to work flexibly is a must for me, prior to the covid restrictions I commuted an hour and a half. I have a family and if I didn’t have that flexibility I would struggle.
When I was in the process of joining REED, I had a couple of options on the table. My experience during the interview process and on joining Reed Online was that I was joining a family run business that would support me in developing and driving my career – but not at the detriment of my life outside of work.
Almost 3 years later that still stands. I work with senior stakeholders across the business and the feeling is that they genuinely care about your wellbeing, your work and want to help and get involved where appropriate. This has been really refreshing for me and continues to support and motivate me.
How do you Improve lives through work?
Well, I guess the most obvious answer would be that reed.co.uk is a service that can improve and even change peoples lives through work. On a more personal note, I think about my team and the impact I have on them daily.
“The trust and the flexible working that is given to me, I like to filter that down to my team…”
The trust and the flexible working that is given to me, I like to filter that down to my team to ensure that they too have a work life balance that works for them. My teams work best though an honest approach, that honesty brings about trust and then the momentum to move forward with their careers and drive their own futures. My hope is that this will have a positive impact on their working environment and improving their lives whilst working at Reed Online.
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge – what does that mean to you personally and professionally?
As a woman, having a successful career in technology is something that I am proud of.
I know how important it is for women to have their voices heard at work, and I understand that sometimes speaking and presenting can be challenging (both for women and men). This can often be due to that little thing we like to call Imposter Syndrome!
Therefore I pledge to support women having their voices heard at work by: Coaching women across the business to feel confident to speak and present, championing training for future leaders through presentation skills and confidence building, and committing to enabling women to have a voice and the opportunity to speak in meetings.