In the spotlight for the High Flyers this week is Rachel McKeeman, Director of Training and Industry Support at CITB NI who, along with the Women in Construction Network, is hosting the second Women in Construction NI Summit in Belfast on April 6.
What was your first job?
At the age of 16, I worked in the hotel industry. My first job was at the Causeway Hotel, Bushmills. The combination of excellent craic with local customers and meeting visitors who have traveled the world to visit our glorious north coast was so exciting. The memories I have of this iconic hotel will stay with me for the rest of my life.
what qualifications do you have?
BSc international tourism management first class honors from the University of Ulster. I am currently studying a level 7 CIPD in Strategic Learning and Development. My studies give me great insight into the wider strategic application I also bring to my role.
What do you attribute your success to?
I love all things “business” and I know I have that flair from my dad who ran three successful businesses and it continues past retirement age! I am a lifelong advocate for personal development and believe that you are the master of your own destiny. Honing and improving your own emotional intelligence (EQ) is key to being a great leader and running a successful business, but it takes practice and good feedback.
How would you describe yourself to someone who has never met you?
I am curious about the world around me, so I like to listen and learn.
Who do you admire in business?
I find inspiration everywhere and it’s not always from an individual as cliché as it may seem. As a business leader, it’s important to spot things done well and learn how to replicate them. I believe that no matter the industry, good things that work well are transferable.
How do you get the most out of the people working for you?
By being authentic, open and building trust. My favorite team building model is the Johari window which can be incredibly powerful in the right framework.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
As part of our Women in Construction NI Summit on April 6, we will hear many inspiring stories from women currently working in the construction industry. It is important that we continue to celebrate their successes and show that this is an industry with many opportunities for women. Our goal at CITB NI is to flag these opportunities and ensure that everyone working in the industry has access to all the training and support they need to succeed.
What website or application could you not do without?
I have family and friends all over the world, from Australia, New Zealand, Greece and London. WhatsApp is how we stay connected.
What’s the last book you read?
Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed and it was amazing! Whether you are curious about how our minds can trick us, especially in an information overloaded world or want to learn how to be a successful leader.
What car do you drive?
Tell us something interesting about you?
Having lived in London for many years, I was worried that even a houseplant was destined to become compost, but now I have a green thumb. I’m rooting (pun intended) for a bountiful harvest of homemade vegetables this year. Ask me in the fall how it went.
What is your greatest passion outside of work and family?
I love to travel and I just can’t wait to get back on the plane. Street food on an Indonesian island with a Bintang beer and digging a sandpit on a hot spring beach in Coromandel, New Zealand.