Claire Keenan, Collections Director at Keenan Recycling, has played a hugely vital role in the fast expansion of the award-winning food waste recycling company. She is the head of the collections branch of the company and manages everything from new truck & depot purchases to day-to-day services. Keenan Recycling would not be at its level of success without Claire Keenan’s perseverance and strong passion to keep growing. This International Women’s Day 2021, Claire took some time out of her busy schedule to speak about her views of being a successful woman in business, and what that means to her. Read more below:
What does International Women’s Day mean to you as a successful woman in business?
It makes me feel happy and uplifted, it is great to see women being celebrated! Men are great too, but it feels nice to have a day dedicated to us.
How do you feel your success is interpreted in comparison to that of your male counterparts? Do you see yourself as ‘successful’?
I do think in business you really have to shine a lot brighter than a man to be in an equal position to them. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault…not so long ago it was frowned upon for a woman to go out and work, we’ve come a long way and I’m happy to be a woman doing what I do.
I am happy in my life and what I’ve achieved….so that makes me feel successful.
Do you feel as though it has been harder for you to build that successful persona as a woman?
I have never really thought about building my success around what other people think, but it has sometimes been a struggle, and it is only really over the past few years that I’ve been taken a lot more seriously.
Have you ever had experience of being branded with negative connotations that often happen with successful women, e.g. ‘bossy’ instead of ‘strong’? How do you combat this?
Yes, I do work in quite a male dominated industry and I am sure that I’ve been negatively spoken about behind my back, but I think once people get to know me, they like me. I’m straightforward and straight to the point, I’m not very good at sugar-coating things but I’m fair and you know where you stand with me.
You have given many opportunities to young women to pursue their careers. Why is it important to you to provide this opportunity to other young women?
I love seeing people reach their full potential and thriving in a role they enjoy. You spend most of your life at work, so it’s important to like what you do and have a passion for it.
What strong women would you say are your role models, in business or personal life?
I’ve been around many strong women throughout my life, my Nana was one of them, she paid off her mortgage in 7 years, she was a real grafter.
I’m proud to say that I’ve raised a strong independent woman in my daughter, seeing her flourish makes me so proud.
This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, what do you think is the most important thing for everyone in the workplace to work on to achieve gender equality?
I think everyone just needs to be kind and considerate. To me it’s not really about gender, it’s just about being considerate to all others. No one is ‘better’ than anyone else, we’re all just humans living on the same planet at the same time as each other. Treat everyone as you would expect them to treat you.
Have you seen a difference in the business landscape from a women’s perspective, over the years that you have been working?
Women have more of a voice than they used to. The feminist stereotype isn’t as prevalent, as it once was, you can now just be yourself and not have to try and adopt male characteristics to fit in with what was once viewed as a ‘man’s world’.
What would be your advice to other young women looking up to you?
Do whatever you want to do, go for it, live life to the full and don’t be put off by anyone!
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