Kara Birrell is a commercially savvy problem solver with a true passion for profit. In all previous roles, she has been responsible for business operations and driving income and results. Grab a coffee and take a couple of moments to get to know her better. Kara joined The Passionate PA in August 2022 and is based in Southampton.
Getting to know Kara
Alarm goes off at:
7am in the winter, 6am in the summer, all depends on the daylight available. I don’t really like walking my dogs in the dark, I can’t see the rabbits and deer that they could end up chasing!
Start the day with:
Cup of tea whilst catching up on emails and social media, then horsey chores and out for a dog walk.
Where do you do most of your work?
An ideal week comprises of 3 days in my clients’ offices or out and about with them, and the other 2 days working from home. I like to work face to face with clients on ‘the shop floor’ to get a full picture of how their business works so I have a full understanding when I head back to work from home of what is needed to help them achieve their goals.
What sectors do your clients operate within?
A selection of creative and highly skilled sectors, as well as consultancy services too.
Best part of your work:
I treat all businesses that I work with as if they were my own. I am passionate about helping turn clients’ passion into profit and I get a real buzz from assisting with a business’s growth, both in terms of turnover, but more importantly, their bottom line.
Worst part of your work:
Not being able to stop. I can be like a dog with a bone when I take on a new challenge, I won’t stop until I find a solution!
Clients you add most value to:
Sole traders whose passion turned into their growing business. Often these business owners are uber talented in what they do, but lack the time, or skills, to focus on the essentials in the background of their business. That’s where I come in to create really valuable partnerships.
After work you’ll be:
Walking my dogs or horse riding out in the New Forest with friends, which may include a stop at the ice cream van, pub, or both on a summer’s evening!
Why a franchise with The Passionate PA and not go it alone?
I have done similar work alone in the past, but I missed the camaraderie of working in a team. I have always been a people person and enjoy being able to share the highs and lows with understanding colleagues. It is also great to be part of a growing business and having the chance to learn all the time. When you work on your own, you can be guilty of becoming somewhat stagnant without having the drive to move with the times, which is essential in business.
The Passionate PA really struck a cord with me with their similar ethos of wanting to go above and beyond expectations when it comes to helping businesses… but of course always with that commercial eye on our own operations too.
What did you do before:
I had a long career in hospitality, reaching the pinnacle at Head of Operations for a hotel chain. This career gave me a wide range of skills that are easily transferrable to all sectors. With hotels struggling to reach a mere 4% net profit, it has given me a real figure focused view on business, finding the fine line between making a healthy profit without losing the quality.
Bubbles, ideally a chilled bottle of Veuve Cliquot, but any Champagne or Prosecco is still good with me.
Favourite location for a business meeting:
Probably on the terrace at The Balmer Lawn Hotel. This is a hotel that I used to manage and one that I am still very fond of, plus it’s great to have the chance to catch up with some of my ex-colleagues whilst I am there.
What are you reading?
I struggle to read unless I have unlimited time to finish the book from the moment that I started it. This means that books are usually only a holiday treat for me, I almost read a full library during lockdown!
Your guilty pleasure:
Rock music. I have always had a very eclectic taste in music, anything from opera to hard rock. As I’ve got older, I seem to have become more of a rock chick, I love going to live music gigs, surrounded by fans that are more than half my age, with a fellow rock chick friend (not my partner, he really doesn’t share this guilty pleasure!).
Favourite hobby/past time:
Dog walking and horse riding, getting out in the beautiful New Forest. As much as house prices in the New Forest are somewhat out of my reach, this beautiful National Park is only a very short car drive away (I could actually walk there if I felt inclined!). I feel blessed to live where I do and take every opportunity that I can to be out there to enjoy it, rain or shine.
Most inspirational/influential person in your career:
I think this has to be a previous boss and hotel owner, Chris Wilson. He always seemed to have more faith in my capabilities than I had at the time. He always filled me with the confidence I needed to take on the many daily challenges I faced whilst managing his hotel.
Although, I think that I may have now found a new ‘most inspirational person’ in Kate with her endless positivity. I thought that this was a trait of mine, my glass is always half full (unless it’s a Champagne glass, then there is always room for a top up), but I think Kate may well challenge me on this!
Favourite animal and why:
It’s a close one between horses and dogs for me, but I think dogs win for the supply of the endless unconditional love that they offer. They are always so pleased to see you! Horses, on the other hand, are only really pleased to see you when you have a bucket of feed in your hand. I currently have 3 rescue dogs, 2 from Italy. I found one of them whilst on holiday and after a Prosecco or two, I made the crazy decision to bring her back to the UK, bearing in mind she was heavily pregnant at the time! That was a logistical challenge to say the least, but 3 months later she arrived on my doorstep, 4 of her puppies arrived a month later and now all have fabulous homes with my friends across the UK.
Greatest contact/supplier that deserves a plug:
Peter Holding, All Parties and Events. I have worked with Peter over the past 10+ years at different venues that I have managed. I have watched his business evolve into more than being just a DJ as he took on supplying photobooths, event AV and much more. He is always great to speak to for advice on all things music and lighting in all areas of events and properties. He has always been very generous in supplying his services free of charge for charity events, along with my birthday parties too!
Your business plan for the coming year:
To find a base of clients who have a real passion for their business, who would benefit from the addition of my ‘passion for profit’ to help their business thrive.
You can find out more about Kara by clicking here! Or, give her a call – she does love a natter!
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