Updated: Jul 21
Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Natalie Quinn, Global Sales Lead @ KPMG UK
How could you describe your career path in a few words?
I can describe it in 2 words: Completely Unexpected.
When I moved to London from Glasgow at 21, I was chasing a different dream entirely. It was due to a recommendation from a friend when I fell into my first London role in IT recruitment. I viewed it to be a short term means to an end, but little did I know it was the kick start to my career.
From this initial role I slowly started to evolve changing from an agency role, to inhouse with a well-known media company where I was set to take a fulltime role as an IT Project Manager however, a timely opportunity instead ended up taking me to New York City.
I gathered invaluable experience during my time working in Manhattan and realised during this time I had a true passion for the world of tech. Some of the business leaders I met during my time there and most admire are still good friends to this day, coaching and mentoring me as I’ve navigated the world of Big4.
Now, working as a Global Sales Lead at KPMG I’m so fortunate to work in countries and cultures all around the world, solving business problems using Microsoft technologies. To be involved in programmes which are actively changing human experience and being part of huge drives towards sustainability is such an incredible progressive space to be in.
Moving from an industry like recruitment where it’s very much solo effort on placing individuals, to a Big4 environment which is much more working a as team on more complex sales proposals has been a transformative experience, I’ve realised you can go fast alone but we certainly go further together.
It’s been an incredible journey so far and I am looking forward to the future.
What was your most challenging experience, and has it changed your mindset?
I have met a lot of challenges through my career, learning to adapt to difficult situations with clients and colleagues, and generally all the experiences that have contributed to developing me into a well-rounded sales leader.
My biggest challenge without a doubt was our prolonged working from home environment during Covid, predominantly the mental effects dealing with our new reality. During lockdown (a very difficult time for the world), we experienced working and living from home 24 hours a day, it was very easy to become complacent. During this time I lived alone at the peak of lockdown in London, looking back it was make or break. I could have lazed around and got by doing the bare minimum, who would have known? And if I’m being honest, that is what I did for a bit of time, a little lost and frustrated (with the rest of the nation, I’m sure!), there was however, a turning point. At a point I thought to myself “this is what we’re forced to do now. What happens when the world goes back to normal? who do you want to be? What will future me thank me for?” Self-reflection can be difficult, for the most part we avoid looking in the proverbial mirror because we don’t want to own up to our responsibilities or mistakes, but if we can really take the time to recognise our flaws and take action then we are opening ourselves up to the opportunity to meet
our full potential. My mindset completely shifted from “here’s what I could get away with”, to “this is the person I could be”. I am proud to say I have carried this mentality with me since that time, and any moment I feel complacency or laziness coming on, I remind myself of the goals.
Unfortunately, we can’t always change the situations we find ourselves in, but we can absolutely control how we view it and how we react.
When you get surprised by an unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?
I like to think of myself as a very open-minded person, in times where I have been presented something different or a new idea, I always try to see it from their perspective.
When working with different peer groups especially in Big4, you will come across a lot of personality types who’s minds work in completely different ways to each other, where I see blue someone else may see red. Some people may be very pointed and straight to the point, others may tend to lean towards a more easy-going approach, some are emotionally driven, and others may prefer to operate with nothing but fact and logic.
Having self-awareness is a skill in its own which is practiced, however if you can develop that awareness and practice the ability to understand a perception outside your own, you may see opportunity in what would initially have seemed unusual to you as a person and how you operate, and if still it’s uncertain then at least you took the time.
Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader/manager?
I have personally found a key success factor is to be just that, female!
In my experience as a woman who has always operated in a male dominated industry, I found myself at times becoming more like my peer male leaders - dressing similarly, using similar vocabulary, even body language and operating like a man in business. – Now this is not a bad thing, I have learned excellent skills from my male peers and I am grateful to have had such outstanding leadership, especially at KPMG, but where is the real diversity?
When I took a step back and got to know myself; reading books and studying the type of leader I wanted to be, I realised I have so many other valuable qualities which were being overshadowed by my newly developed masculine business acumen. Having empathy and understanding in business is not a bad thing and it’s not being “overly emotional”, to me it’s understanding what my team need in a leader outside of sales targets, salary rise and bonus.
Merging historical “gender characteristics” I have found extremely effective - you can be straight to the point and outspoken (historical male characteristic) whilst also being empathetic towards the people and the circumstance (historical female characteristic), I don’t feel the need to pick a side.
I can dress feminine to feel good about myself and still be good at business, I can have conversations that don’t involve football, Call of Duty or cars, and still be a relevant part of the team and be included in conversation.
From my perspective, to be a successful female leader is about being the most professional best version of you.