I hereby present you our 50th interview. I chose to feature entrepreneur Kelly Hoey for this very special milestone for a simple reason: she thoroughly personifies all the values and ideals that we stand for. Most notably, the promotion of gender equality (through her work for the professional women’s network 85 Broads) and a penchant for generously helping other women (Kelly is the most impressive connector I have ever known).
So, without further ado, here is our 50th interview with entrepreneur Kelly Hoey.
What is your name, age, and location?
Kelly Hoey. Age 45. I’m a Canadian in New York.
What is your profession?
Entrepreneur. Can’t tell you how much I love saying this. And it sounds better than “consultant”. I’ve had the opportunity to wear many hats in my professional career – lawyer, not-for-profit board director, manager, advisor, mentor and most importantly, connector.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I have a law degree from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Victoria. Yes, I majored in political science and economics. I had no idea what I wanted as a career when I entered university. I pursued a liberal arts education, took courses varying from Russian cinema to urban land economics to international relations, and basically learned how to think.
What was your first job?
At age 14, I was employed as a receptionist at my father’s veterinary practice on weekends. 9 am to noon on Saturdays, I was answering the phone, booking appointments and cleaning examination tables. At age 16, I was selected to be a member of The Hudson Bay Company’s Teen Council, which was definitely a step up.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
I was working in the marketing department of a large New York based law firm when I met Janet Hanson, the founder and CEO of 85 Broads (a global network for professional women). Janet asked me “What I was doing at [insert name of law firm]” and my reaction was, “Exactly! What am I doing???” Clearly it was time for me to make a career change. To borrow a line from Shauna Mei, 85 Broads member and founder of AHAlife “I wouldn’t be where I am now, if Janet Hanson hadn’t kicked my butt”. I’ve had the privilege of working with Janet, consulting to 85 Broads and leading or advising on a variety of initiatives for the network, since October 2009.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
The most rewarding projects are always ongoing and repeating, the projects which keep our internal compass on “true north”. For me those are projects which require making connections, such as engaging a community or bringing together different communities, tapping into and connecting a network or connecting people – to other people, to new ideas, to their possibilities.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
What has helped me in my career is saying “yes”, “Ok, I’ll do that” “I’m willing to take that on”. Like learning to play golf, I’ve tried to keep a positive, open-mind when it comes to career opportunities and professional challenges.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
Being a woman has not hindered my career. I’ve probably had to work harder at times but generally, those I’ve worked with have always wanted me to succeed.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
I’ve had the good fortune of having many mentors and advisors during my career. I was mentored by particularly complex, brilliant attorney when I was in my second year of practice in Toronto. Mentoring was more than a “nice” thing to do, he felt it was his responsibility as a senior member of the legal community. His motto was “I train my assassins”. He expected the associates working with him to be better than he was. He mentored based on talent not gender. The success and achievements of his mentees, made him more successful. He also taught me how to play golf. Knowing that business relationships in the banking/restructuring community were made or solidified on the golf course, he wanted to ensure I was “in the room” where the decisions were made. And what is incredibly satisfying for me is mentoring and being sought out as an advisor by younger professionals, particularly women and passing on his mindset towards developing younger talent.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Build, maintain and leverage your network of advisors, mentors, champions and contacts. Tap into and connect with people in your network. It is your greatest career asset. Everything that has happened in my career since I moved to New York in 1998 – career changes, promotions, board positions – has occurred because of a network.
– Interview by Elena Rossini