Karen Robinson

Head of Business Development and Marketing, West Boldon

Sector: PR and Marketing

Karen Robinson was “expected to leave school at 16, work in a shop or a factory and marry the first man I met”. Instead, today she is partner and head of business development and marketing at Jacksons Law Firm. 

Where do you call home? 

I was born in Paisley, Scotland. I left Scotland in 1987 and spent 15 years living in Yorkshire before moving to the North-East. I now live in West Boldon. I have now lived in England longer than I lived in Scotland. 

Tell us about your role?  

I am partner and head of business development and marketing at Jacksons Law Firm. 

I work with the partners and solicitors in the firm to help them achieve their individual, and the firm’s, business development objectives.  

How did you get to where you are today? 

It was a very long journey. I came out of high school at 16 with 3 O-Levels, having had no one to mentor me or give me career advice. I come from a really working-class background, and I was only ever expected to leave school at 16, work in a shop or a factory and marry the first man I met. 

I started my career doing really basic administration jobs and it wasn’t until I was working as a PA in KPMG in Leeds that I decided I wanted to get into marketing. I was lucky to be supported by the senior managers who encouraged me to gain marketing qualifications and become CIM qualified. It took four years working full-time and attending university part-time, giving up a lot of weekends to study for exams and evenings to attend lectures, but it has been worth it. 

I’ve worked in the professional services sector now for over 20 years and Jacksons for six years. The partners at Jacksons have always listened to what I have had to say and supported me during the last six years. Becoming a partner in the firm is my second greatest achievement after having my son. I will be grateful forever for the opportunity I’ve been given. 

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

I was in my 30s when I gained my CIM qualifications and was competing for jobs with people who were a lot younger than me and because of my age, I was expected to have hands-on experience. Getting that first job was difficult. 

I have been made redundant three times as a marketeer during economic global crises – one of the first areas some firms look at making cuts is marketing which is really short-sighted. 

Not every firm sees the value in marketing and BD so it was sometimes tough getting people to engage with and support me. 

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

When the partners at Jacksons voted me into the partnership. I have a lot to thank Jane Armitage for. She recruited me, mentored me, and put me forward for the promotion 

Do you have any advice for aspiring young females? 

Believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you want to. Take as much advice and support as you can as there is a lot out there! 

I’m a girl from one of the most underprivileged areas in the UK. If I can achieve my dreams, anyone can! 

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

I was bullied throughout school and picked on for trying to do well, so I stopped doing well as I wanted to be “liked”. So I would say to my younger self, “ignore the bullies, work hard at school and be yourself!” 

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

You can, Karen. 

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