Karen Harley: Springboard

Karen Harley works for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, within the Department of Haematology for a rare blood disease called PNH. Karen is the Data Co-ordinator in the team, and she joined Cohort 4 of the Springboard programme. If you would like to apply for Springboard, visit this page

I would never have dreamed of doing the leadership programme I’m doing now before participating in Springboard.

“When I left university, I worked for seven years in advertising and marketing, and then took a career break to go travelling. I lived in Sydney for a year, then decided to come back home to get married. I stuck a pin in a map, it landed in Leeds, and I’ve been here ever since. Once I’d moved to Leeds, I worked in marketing roles at Bupa and Northern Rail for a short period. During this time, I had my children and I worked part time for North Yorkshire Police as an emergency call handler, which I loved. I also volunteered for Home Start in Leeds, helping vulnerable families with things like going out, learning how to cook, making friends and supporting them to be the best they could.  

During that time, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which had a massive impact on me. I decided to change jobs from working with the police, to working for the NHS, because I wanted to help people. That was one of the values that I discovered by doing Springboard.

I’m now completing a leadership programme with the NHS. I absolutely love it, and I ended up working with the team that saved my life. 

At the time I applied for Springboard, I was undecided about my career, and I also had a few self-confidence issues. My colleagues recommended the programme to me as a great platform to explore and grow. I felt stuck in the role I was in at the time, and I was nervous and hesitant about what jobs to apply for next. Through Springboard, I could network with people, which was something I’d never considered before. By doing this, I got another job which somebody approached me to apply for. Before Springboard, I would never have applied for it because I didn’t have the confidence, but I went for it and I got it, and it’s absolutely amazing!  

Springboard has been great for my personal and professional development. Some areas of the programme were challenging, but really beneficial. I think we often focus on our weaknesses, but the programme encourages you to talk about all the things that have happened in your life that have been important. When I did this, I wrote reams and reams, and there were so many successes that I’d previously glossed over.  

I’ve got strong values, and now that I know what’s important to me, it drives everything I do. There are so many skills that Springboard showed me that I’ve really embraced, and it’s been so beneficial to me in my career. I would never have dreamed of doing the leadership programme I’m doing now before participating in Springboard.  

It’s given me the structure to find a path for my career, and the confidence to progress. It also helps with relationships outside of work. I’m quite a passionate person, so it’s helped me to step back a little bit, use my listening skills more, and be more empathetic, certainly with my kids as they grow older. 

One aspect of the programme that really stood out to me was the guest speakers. They were all so different, but they all resonated with me. The women who spoke to us were courageous and brave, they’d made big decisions in their lives that weren’t always comfortable, but were the right ones to make. That reminded me that I have to push myself outside of my comfort zone and follow my values. They really inspired me.  

What would I say to someone considering applying for Springboard? Just do it! If you’re lacking a little bit of self-confidence, or you’re at a point in your career where you’re thinking, what next? It’s a really safe space for women to talk about any fears or any challenges that they’re facing.  

Springboard is an inspirational programme that links individuals from all walks of life, helping them to learn, grow, reflect on their abilities and to become the best versions of themselves. It is educational, inspirational and enjoyable! You are given the chance to meet and connect with a fantastic and diverse group of women, hear their stories and learn from them. If you have the opportunity to apply then sign up – the rewards are continuous and the skills I developed whilst on the course are shaping my career, and bringing positive change for myself both personally and professionally, and for my organisation.” 

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