To celebrate this International Women’s Day (and really, shouldn’t that simply be everyday?!), we’re profiling some incredible women in the lifestyle space. Meet Karen Gray, VP of marketing at Parq Vancouver. —Noa Nichol
Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself to start.
Hi, I’m Karen. I live in Kits with my partner, my two adult daughters and our cavoodle named Bibble. Our family moved to Vancouver in 2008, intending to stay for 2 years, and we’ve never left. I’ve worked in marketing for more than 30 years, specializing in the fun and entertainment industry, and have been the VP of Marketing for Parq Vancouver for three years. In my free time I’m a sports fanatic. I play field hockey (Go Jokers!) and love watching cricket, the Sydney Swans, and the Canucks. I’m also obsessed with extraordinarily long walks and have completed a couple of caminos.
How does your company empower women?
Parq Vancouver has a number of women in senior leadership and management roles. We really do celebrate diverse backgrounds and opinions, and empowering women is just an everyday part of our approach to business. I have always believed that continuous learning and development is the most life-changing thing you do, and gift to your colleagues, so we have set up some informal networks for emerging women like mentor programs and women-in-leadership book clubs.
What are the current challenges for women in your industry? How do you overcome them?
We have a young team who are quite new to the marketing and entertainment industry, and spent much of the pandemic either studying or working from home. For some, they are joining the in-person workplace for the first time and it can be tough to make the transition from home to hybrid to working in the office. I’m trying to overcome this by building community at the office and making the office a fun, engaging and satisfying place to come. There’s an education element here too: helping them understand the power of in-person interactions with leadership, and value that comes from being part of a team.
How do you create a supportive environment for yourself and your team?
Work is an important part of my life, and it’s super-important for me that my team enjoys the work we do, enjoys their colleagues and feels a real sense of community. We do stand-ups a couple of times a week as well as a host of regular operational meetings to make sure we are all aligned on what needs to be achieved. We do lunch and learns and video sessions. We have our book club and our informal mentoring. We have team lunches and offsite sessions. We celebrate difference and authenticity. And my door is always open for the whole team.
Who has been your greatest influence/mentor in your life?
I believe work lessons are life lessons and so the important thing is to surround yourself with good people. I got lucky early in my career with a leader who taught me about the value of openness, respect and vulnerability. My dad taught me to treat everyone as an equal and always say thank you. My mum, to strive and do your best. My partner, to value myself and my contribution. The more experienced I get, the more important it has become to choose companies, leaders and colleagues who are aligned with my values, truly care about people, want to do good in the world, and treat each other with respect.
What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing?
Right now, I am super-proud of the work we have done to rebuild our marketing team into a happy, cohesive and fun group. Together we have relaunched Parq Vancouver’s marketing programs, partnerships and community programs. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve next!