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Q &A with Kelly Mordecai, Tai Tarian

Written by A.R.Fairbank@swansea.ac.uk / Wednesday 28th November 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a family woman with a husband, 2 active kids and a bouncy puppy who keeps my life fulfilled. I spend my free time, when I have it, spending quality time with my family (my parents, sister and niece and nephews and in-laws). 

I was a professional bouncer - meaning I was in the Welsh trampolining / gymnastics squad and later was a coach & judge. I love boxing, fitness, street dance and currently I am learning more about health and nutrition with a view to leading a better lifestyle long-term. I am a useless cook so nutrition is proving to be a bit of a challenge! 

Work wise, I fell into HR at the age of 19 and nearly 25 years later I'm still in the profession. I have had various roles over the years covering most areas of the profession and had some wonderful experiences and challenges during that time. I have worked in the public and private sectors and been in social housing for the last 7 years. 

I am currently an OD Specialist which I have occupied for the past 2 years. This role has enabled me to widen my knowledge and scope within OD by stepping away from a general HR operational role and undertaking a more tactical role within the organisation.

This year I won 3 awards at the Wales HR Awards, which included HR Professional of the Year, Team of the Year and overall HR Star.

DSC_0195.JPGWhat advice would you give to women who want to succeed in business?

Stay true to yourself, continue to learn and lead by example. Be brave and challenge yourself, work outside of your comfort zone.

Have passion, determination and be responsible for your own success. Understand your strengths and what works for you, and what doesn’t, seek feedback. 

It may take time, especially when you are juggling family life and you make informed choices around your priorities, but it is important to have ambition and be credible throughout your journey.

Be inquisitive and learn from others.

Set yourself goals and determine what your legacy will be as you progress and move on..

Capture your own personal journey and the value you have contributed.. don't just focus on the tasks you have achieved.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

I haven’t found that work life balance yet. Some would say I don’t have a balance at all! 

I know what it could look like but in reality I made the choice to put my children’s priorities and needs before my own so I take a bit of a back seat....but I am happy with that and enjoy being part of their journey.

I work full time plus my children have extremely busy schedules with dance, lifeguards, swimming and music. I am constantly running around and on the road almost every evening and weekend. That is without the travelling around the world occasionally with my eldest competing. 

Luckily I am in a position where I have been key in driving and creating an organisational culture which supports and promotes health and wellbeing. I have been able to create a truly flexible working process for the organisation so I can manage both my professional life and home life commitments when I need to. It is really important to me that I can be there for the children when needed .. whether that is school meetings, medical appointments and occasionally the pick up from school to have tea with them.

However, amongst the chaos I now invest in a little me time. Around 18 months ago I started a health and fitness programme which has benefited me immensely in so many ways. It is not easy to maintain, but I make the effort to ensure I fit in a couple of hours a week for this. 

Did anyone or any particular organisation help you out along the way?

I enjoy work, enjoy learning and growing so I guess I am half way there. However yes my manager has challenged me over the past 2 years to grow and come out of my comfort zone. I have had opportunities to experience new things and more importantly space to grow and learn about me, how to work to my strengths and understand what I do best.

However I have had managers in the past who have done the opposite and held me back…but I have always persevered and believed in my ability and what I wanted to achieve. 

I strongly believe in owning your own engagement, success and making choices about the situations you are in.

DSC_0142.JPGWhat have you learned about leadership?

There are so many models about leadership but the practical things that stick with and work for me are:

As a starting point, have a motivating purpose, where you plan to check in on progress and results. It is important to understand the why and what you are doing and how that contributes to the overall corporate goal.

Understand yourself, know your strengths, have self-awareness.. so you know what you can do to continuously improve. For my personal journey, and as an achiever, I have learned that I need to empower others and be an enabler and not always solutionise and get things done, which is my default mode. 

Actively manage your stakeholders so you understand where you need to collaborate, what time and effort you need to spend to ensure you get the best possible outcomes. You need to bring people with you on a journey.

Connection and relationships are key. Seek feedback from others, reflect and act on it. We cannot grow unless we understand how and what we do impacts on people that we work with and how we can improve. This is invaluable.

In your opinion, what is the key to success?

Have a passion and care about what you do. If you care you will want the best results and outcomes. Be accountable and responsible for the outcomes.

Stay human, show a little vulnerability at times and actively seek views of others. Be authentic and true to you. Have good values and live up to them. Self-awareness – learning continually about yourself….

Be engaged, happy and credible in what you do .. that does not matter what role you are in or level you are at.

What are the 3 words you would use to describe yourself?

Achiever, Passionate, Inquisitive

Who inspires you?

I’m not impressed by iconic figures or high profile celebrity leaders - what inspires me is what people do...regardless of who they are. 

People who show courage, who practice what they preach, who smile when life gets in the way, who take advice and strive to be better tomorrow than they were yesterday.  

People who work hard and earn their achievements, and sometimes are selfless in supporting others in their achievements.

Leaders who invest in you personally...take time to give you opportunities, push you to grow and truly believe in you and take you on a journey with them. Leaders who want you to be better than them.

People like this range from my 10 year old nephew who has cerebral palsy and is the happiest chap you could ever meet, to the lady in the office who turned her life around after a nervous breakdown, to the unsung hero who spends all their waking hours volunteering with children and adults in the community with no formal recognition or reward.

It’s the journey that inspires me .. Not necessarily the destination.

To find out more about our joint programme with Chwarae Teg, click here                                                                                                             

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