'Go for it': Former Network Cork President encourages members to apply for the 2021 awards

'Go for it': Former Network Cork President encourages members to apply for the 2021 awards

Karen Fleming was a previous President of Network Ireland’s Cork branch.

“I think that’s what Network Cork is all about, you get a lot of confidence from other people believing in you and then you finally get a little bit of your own.” 

That’s according to Karen Fleming, a previous winner at the Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards and former president of the Network Ireland Cork branch in 2018.

Ms Fleming, who has worked at Hayfield Manor for the past 11 years in various different roles, first got involved with Network Cork eight years ago through her work.

“Hayfield Manor, to the best of my knowledge, has always been a member but when I changed from operations to sales and marketing in 2013 that is when my involvement in Network Cork really started properly because I became our representative for the hotel,” she said.

“Then Helen Wycherley, when she was the incoming president, she approached me to be on her committee as their corporate memberships officer, so then I got to know it even better because when you’re behind the scenes you really appreciate all the work that goes into these things.” 

Karen Fleming
Karen Fleming

Over the years Ms Fleming has served in many different committee roles, including corporate membership officer, business awards coordinator, vice president and president of the Cork branch.

“It just showed collectively what women can do when they support each other and I met a lot of fantastic people over the years that are very inspiring to spend time with and I made some really good friends.” 

It was a hectic year for Ms Fleming during her term as President but the commitment was something she was happy to give to an organisation she had benefited so much from.

“I was president in 2018.

“That was a huge learning curve - very nerve-racking. I was very nervous about taking on that responsibility but in fairness to Hayfield, they supported me 100%, they were excellent for the whole year in terms of supporting me and supporting Network Cork and the events that we had," she said. 

“It’s pretty full on – you would basically go from event to event to event. You really are busing the whole year.

“You’re also trying to get a mix of speakers that will appeal to all because it’s a wide enough membership base, like there is a mix of entrepreneurs, individual business owners and there are a lot of employees like me so you have to make sure the speakers are attractive to a wide range of people and that people will get something from everything you do.

“Of course, it’s slightly different this year and last year because it’s all virtual but it's no less hard because you’re trying to keep people engaged, you’re effectively running a networking organisation in the absence of networking which is no mean feat.” 

Ms Fleming is a previous winner at the Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards, an achievement which she said helped bolster her confidence.

“The categories have changed since I won it. When I won it at the time it was the Employee category.

“I, like many people who enter, would not have considered it had it not been for people in my own company who believed in me and the encouragement from Network Cork.

“And I think that’s what Network Cork is all about, you get a lot of confidence from other people believing in you and then you finally get a little bit of your own.” 

Ms Fleming said she would encourage any member of Network Cork to apply for the awards, even if their confidence is lacking.

“My mom always says to me, when we are facing things that daunting and outside of the comfort zone, her favourite phrase is ‘go for it my sweet’.

“I would say to anyone to go for it my sweet.

“It’s worth it, it doesn’t feel comfortable applying for these things, it never does, but you know great things happen outside the comfort zone.” 

There are two employee award categories for this year’s awards.

They are the Employee Rising Star award, sponsored by Kinsale Gin and the Employee Shining Star award, sponsored by Transilient Coaching.

The closing date to apply for the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year Awards is today at 5pm.

To find out more, visit www.networkireland.ie

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