Women in Leadership: Interview with Karen Dillon, Ulster Bank

Morgan McKinley are delighted to welcome Karen Dillon to our Women in Leadership series. Karen has spent 15 years in Finance and Internal Audit leadership roles across KPMG, AIB and RBS/Ulster Bank.

She is currently seconded to the Ulster Bank Corporate Management Team to deliver bespoke projects and reviews. Her qualifications are numerous - she is a qualified Chartered Accountant, Tax professional, Internal Auditor and holds an executive masters in risk management from UCD. In addition she also has a busy family life with 2 kids! 


Who is your role model as a leader? 
Christine Lagarde, MD of the IMF is my role model. Christine has had a successful career as a lawyer , and in becoming Chairman of international law firm, Baker & McKenzie. Having been France’s Minister for Trade and Finance she is now the first female MD of the IMF.  Christine has 2 kids and has managed to expertly manage both having a high successful career and have a family all of which I find admirable.

If you had advice for your eighteen year old self, what would it be? 
Get to know everyone’s’ motivators / driver so you can relate to them and develop stronger working relationships. Listen more - listen to gain a greater balance in your views. 

What is the most valuable advice that you have been given? 
Relax when you feel the stress levels building. And pause for a message to land when presenting.  

What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
Obtaining my ACA qualifications and watching my kids move from the wobblers rooms, to montessori class and now my oldest starting school. I feel like I have done so much and my oldest is only turning 5 years old! 

What has been the greatest challenge(s) in your career and how did you overcome it(them)? 
Returning to the office from maternity leave, then came the juggle of balancing a career with the demands of a busy home life.

What are the challenges to female leadership?
Being able to relate to others who have a different backgrounds or interests.

Name three things in your "bucket list"

- To travel to wonderful places with my family

- To build a house of my dreams 

- To become a single figure golf player.
What is your definition of success and/or your mantra? 
The ingredients for success for me are - being proud of the impact my deliverables have, being honest with myself and team, having a plan, obtaining the support of others and getting the best from people around me. Did I make a difference this week to the Bank’s strategic goals?

Three key words to describe yourself ? 
Hardworking, passionate and always the optimist

What would you like to achieve next?
A move up the ladder / career change with a promotion in sight.

Gerald FitzGerald's picture
Chief Executive Officer Ireland


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