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How This VP Balances Motherhood and Leading an Award-Winning Team

By: KnowBe4 HR

Published: 31 Aug 2022
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2022

Over the last four years, Kelly has worked her way up from Director of Talent Outreach to her current role as VP of Global Talent Brand and Outreach, where she leads all employer branding, recruitment marketing, recruitment programs, events and partnerships for our 13 offices worldwide. While building a department and team, progressing in her career, and becoming a mom, Kelly has successfully learned to manage the demands of her fast-paced job while prioritizing her family.

In today's blog, Kelly shares valuable advice on how to balance motherhood while also building a career as an executive.

What do you do in your role as VP of Global Talent Brand & Outreach?

Kelly Headshot

As the VP of Global Talent Brand & Outreach at KnowBe4, I run a team of incredibly talented, creative, hard-working professionals in the areas of talent branding and talent outreach. 

My team is responsible for managing the global talent brand for KnowBe4 as a top employer through employer branding, recruitment marketing and talent outreach in the community and online for each of our 13 offices across the globe. My talent brand team runs paid ad campaigns to target talented candidates and manages our employer branding platforms such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed. They publish our company culture blog and social media channels, and run all company culture-related awards such as Fortune Best Workplaces and Inc Best Workplaces. My talent outreach team is in charge of all recruitment programs and recruitment events across the globe, such as our global internship program, the Sales Career Accelerator, our scholarship programs, speaking engagements, shadowing opportunities, career fairs, and university and community partnerships.


What have been the keys to your success in balancing a fast-paced job, leading an award-winning team, and being a present mom? 

Kelly and Family

My first piece of advice is that every minute counts. I plan my schedule down to the minute, and I know that it takes me 22 minutes to get to my daughter’s school, so I make sure to leave right on time, but not a moment sooner. I am also a big fan of multitasking. I eat breakfast and lunch while in meetings, I talk to my team to help resolve any issues that may have come up while driving to pick up my kids from school, and I listen to work-related audiobooks or webinars while cooking dinner or driving. While some people may consider this lifestyle stressful or chaotic, I enjoy routines like this because I understand the importance of being efficient and prefer to make the best use of my time during work hours so that I have more time to spend with my family in the evenings. 

My second piece of advice is to train your teams to be as independent and self-reliant as possible. The more your team depends on you to make decisions or resolve problems for them, the more you will be pulled in a million directions. If you can give your team members the autonomy and confidence to own their areas of responsibility and take extreme ownership, they will ultimately become better leaders and make the department more productive and efficient. 

My third piece of advice is to spend some quality time every day with your children, and have one-on-one time with each of them if possible. This quality time of even just 15 minutes a day should garner your undivided attention; no phone calls, no computer, no chores, no distractions, just you and your child. Allow your child to lead the connection time and pick an activity of their choice. During this time, make sure to show your love and affection. All children, regardless of age, have a “cup” that needs to be filled during the day. These few minutes of undivided attention go a long way in filling up their “cup.” This helps me immensely because even if I don’t have hours to spend with my kids each day, these few minutes of quality time help us all to feel that deep connection we desire. 


What makes you most proud of receiving the 2022 Talent Brand Team of the Year award?

Talent Brandies Announcement

I am a former entrepreneur and business owner, so creating and building are passions of mine. When I started at KnowBe4 over four years ago, I created the department from the bottom up and built everything from scratch. I hired a team of eight, soon to be nine, incredible individuals, and It’s so rewarding for me to see everything that we’ve accomplished. 

We received the Talent Brand Team of the Year award from the Talent Brand Alliance, which is a community of experienced talent brand professionals from across the globe. This community is made up of experts with tens of years of experience in the field, and I look up to them and learn from them every day. To be recognized by this community as Talent Brand Team of the Year is such a privilege and a testament to all our hard work and dedication; it means we are doing something right! ;) 


How do you feel supported as a working mother and VP at KnowBe4?

Easter Egg Hunt

I have felt extremely supported as a working mother and VP at KnowBe4 since day one. My senior leadership has always told me that family comes first, and that has held true. If I ever need to take time off for a school function or a doctor’s appointment, I always have the freedom to do so. 

When I joined KnowBe4, I wanted to create a community of parents that could support one another and drive positive change in the workplace. Therefore, I founded the Knowster Parents employee resource group, and as President, I take an active role in advocating for parents at KnowBe4. We have worked to improve healthcare, introduce new benefits, and provide resources for parents from all walks of life. We’ve created an incredible community of Knowster parents where we can learn from one another and share experiences. 


As a VP, as well as the Founder and President of the Knowster Parents employee resource group, what advice do you have for parents who hope to attain a leadership role at KnowBe4?


Tip 1: There is no fast track to success. Moving into a leadership position isn’t easy, so you must put in the time and effort necessary. It’s imperative to go above and beyond what is required of you in your role. If you work in technical support and need to close 190 tickets a month, ensure you are working hard enough to close 220 tickets a month. Your hard work and efforts will be seen by your leadership. 

Tip 2: Another very important point most people don’t initially consider is to determine if a leadership role is right for you. As you move higher and higher within the organization, your duties and responsibilities shift. If you move into management, your energy will be more focused on putting out fires and helping to resolve issues, and you will move away from your craft or vocation. Do you enjoy problem-solving and managing others? Or do you really like what you are currently doing, and are you great at your craft? Consider what is important to you at the end of the day. Although moving into a leadership role sounds sexy, and you might also earn more in a higher-level role, consider if that will really make you happy. 

Barrena Family Photo

Tip 3: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to prioritize. As you move into leadership, you will have more and more conflicting priorities, and you will be pulled in a million different directions. You must keep your eye on the ball and be able to filter through unimportant and non-urgent matters to ensure everything gets done when it needs to. 

Tip 4: Understand that there are tradeoffs. You can’t have everything. In a leadership role, I work more hours and I don’t get to spend as much time with my kids as I would in a less demanding role. I chose this path because working hard motivates me; my entire motivation is to work as hard as I can to provide a better life for my family. Everything I do is to ensure they can have a happy, comfortable, fulfilling life. Ensure what you are doing is right for you

Tip 5: Always make your objectives clear to your leadership. If you are interested in moving up, sit down with your leader and ask what exactly will be required of you to move up to the next level. What skills, knowledge, experience, and competencies will you need to build? What performance metrics will you need to hit? Then check in every month with your leader and come prepared to show what you have accomplished. Your professional career growth is in your hands; take extreme ownership over your growth and ensure you do exactly what is needed to move up. And at KnowBe4, we have career coaches and performance coaches, so you absolutely need to ensure you are taking advantage of all the resources that are provided to you. 


Are you ready to become KnowBe4's next leader?


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