To mark International Women’s Day 2021, we spoke to KPC International’s quality assurance consultant Mary Collier about her professional journey.

Hi Mary, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role with KPC International

Hi, I’m married with 3 kids and live in East Cork for the last 20 years but, still remain a very proud Tipp woman at heart. I have a degree in Applied Chemistry & Quality Management, black belt in Lean and I am currently studying Biopharma processing in CIT. Over the past 20 plus years I have worked in management roles in Quality, Regulatory Affairs and Supply Chain. My work experience has been in API manufacturing, Finished Product, Medical Devices and Veterinary Medicine.

Since joining KPC in 2016 I have looked after the KPC Quality Management System and have worked on a variety of different projects.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes I did, and regularly updated the plan! I looked at what I was interested in and what areas I felt I’d like more experience in. Having said that, life can throw wonderful curveballs so the plan was always adaptable.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Success in your career can mean very different things to people, from job satisfaction to making oodles of money, decide what you define as success. I also believe the most important thing is to remain authentic to yourself and keep aligned with your core beliefs and values.

It really helps to surround yourself with a great team and never be afraid to share the credit where it’s deserved.

If you could one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Trust yourself and don’t be afraid to take a risk if you feel it’s right.

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.

First example is close to home! I find Julianne fascinating with her amazing energy levels and her ability to bounce back and always find a way forward. We can all learn a lot from her.

I was very lucky to have a great manager for a few years that I learned so much from. She was always curious and was not afraid to admit when she didn’t know something, persistent, tough when needed, never jumped to the first conclusion, extremely fair and always promoted her team members successes as theirs rather than her own.

On a global stage I think Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, is pretty amazing. She became the worlds youngest head of government when she took office at the age of 37. Following the birth of her daughter she was quoted as saying “I hope that she doesn’t feel any limitations. That she doesn’t have any sense of what girls can or can’t do. That its just not even a concept for her”. Imagine that world!

What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?

Believe in your ability, that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in everything. We are very guilty of comparing ourselves to others and can perceive colleagues doing a similar role to be better and more capable, but without doubt you will have strengths that they may not have, likewise they will be stronger in some areas. The trick is not being afraid to ask for advice and support in the areas you need it. Everybody you meet in your career will teach you something so embrace the differences.

Be flexible in your career moves; don’t be afraid to take side steps, step back or to take on roles that scare the life out of you. Once you make a change for the right reasons you will never regret it.