Posted on 21 Mar 21bySheri Pepper
Kim Barragan serves as Vice President of Business Solutions for Nelson and Higher Growth Search. Having joined the organization in 2012, Kim first held roles in Operations, and then moved to the Enterprise team in 2016 as Senior Director of Client Delivery. She was soon promoted to Vice President of Client Delivery overseeing Nelson’s large accounts and processes.
In June 2019 Kim was promoted to Vice President of Business Solutions and manages a team of six. Her business strategy, operational, and technology expertise impact processes and people across the organization.
How did you find your first job? How did you find your last job?
In my last years of college I started working in the hotel industry as a waitress in the Marriott … and eight years later I was general manager. After college, I went into the Marriott’s management training program and was restaurant manager, housekeeping manager, front desk manager, and then sales and meeting manager. During those years I did many 24-hour shifts and moved around Northern California a lot!
After I got married and had my first child, the hotel schedule was just too much. I needed a better work/life situation, so I transitioned into staffing, and my first job was with Adecco. I then worked for Spherion for 13 years in many different roles. I found out about Nelson through a referral, which is when I applied for and got my first role here in Operations.
Since you began your career, what changes have occurred for women that excite you?
Overall women are not afraid to speak out and know their voices are important. Women have more possibilities than ever and don’t have to choose between working or being a mother – we can do both. Women of course still have a long way to go, but we’re progressing in the right vs. wrong direction. We’ve gained respect in the workplace, and today it’s absolutely okay for women to lead companies. Women leaders may seem like a given to employees coming up in the ranks, but this is a real change I’ve witnessed since I began my career. And that’s exciting!
Who is woman role model for your personal life and why?
My mother is my role model. She was a German immigrant who met my dad when he was in the Army –they didn’t even speak the same language. She moved here at 23 and taught herself English. She only had a high school degree and never had a career life. But she was a selfless person who always worked and put family and other people first.
In college I was a textile major, and I wanted to get an internship at Cornell University. My mom was completely supportive and put half of her paycheck aside for my books and internship. She passed away at 61 and remains my role model.
What is one piece of advice you’ve received in your career and that you’ve implemented and found useful?
Sometimes you have to really work to get where you want to go, and you might not be able to start at the top. Some people may not advance as fast as others, but often their solid, structured background really helps them be successful when they get there. People often gain valuable experience and have more practical tools at their disposal than people who rise through the ranks faster. Also, it’s really important to remember that you don’t always have to be the smartest or most talented, but your integrity and good work ethic will get you far.
What is a piece of advice you’d extend to another woman progressing through her career?Never feel guilty that a career is important to you. When I was starting my career, I had many friends who were stay-at-home moms. They didn’t work because they thought they couldn’t since they had families. But you can have both if you decide that’s what you want to do. I also have always had a lot of support, and my husband has been very supportive and flexible.
If you were to make a mark on history – either in your professional or personal life – what would that be?
I progressed in my career because people believed in me, and I love to help other people progress in their careers. I didn’t always have total confidence, but others did, and that’s something I love to share. So if I were to win the lottery next year, I’d like to know that I’ve given my team enough so that they can be fully successful on their own.
How has your role changed over the past year with the pandemic and the move to remote work?
When our organization moved to remote work, we realized we had to have the right processes and technology in place for our employees to be successful in the new environment. We realized we needed to be much more proactive with processes and enabling technology.
How has the move to remote work affected your daily work? Is there anything you find challenging?
My job is completely doable remotely, and I like working from home. I find that without the commute, I can work and still be available to my family. For me, the work/life balance is better. I might work a longer day, but when I’m off, I’m off. I do miss the social aspect of being in the office – just taking a break and walking to Starbucks, having a spontaneous conversation. You learn a lot in an office when you’re working side by side. On the other hand, I now “see” some co-workers more than ever because of zoom.
What are three things you like to do outside of work?
Well … I love to sleep in! I also love to garden and be outside in spring and summer. I love sports – watching professional games or just watching my kids play. I have three boys, so I’ve seen a lot of basketball and football. I’ve missed that during the pandemic and look forward to see those sports start up again.
What is something you’d love to do if you had more time?
That’s simple: go to the beach!
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