Mentoring, an analytical mind and a stubborn streak equal success for Kratos’ Karen Head
HOUSTON—Posting numbers like 130 percent growth from 2009 to 2012, Karen Head has made her mark as Southwest VP of sales for Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions.
In an interview with Security Systems News, she was exceedingly modest, and quick to credit her team of eight account managers for that accomplishment.
“We function well as a group. Each person knows their role within the group and with the vertical market approach,” she said. Each member of the group “has a very good network, strong customer relationships and they’ve leveraged those over the years.”
This was particularly evident when the economy took a nosedive in 2008. “Those relationships were invaluable in sustaining our business,” Head said. “And as the economy picked up, our sales came along with it.”
The vertical market approach has also worked well. When there’s been a downturn in one segment “the others carry through,” Head said.
Head started her career in this city in 1989 working in accounting at a Sonitrol company. She moved to customer service, then into sales roles. She got her first taste of systems integration working for a small local integrator where she led a three-person sales team.
She liked the work and was successful, and while her background wasn’t technology-centric, Head is analytical by nature. “I was able to adapt that trait to the technology, by analyzing how a system was put together, how it functions and what that means to the end result [and the customer],” she said.
Today, her team sells complex systems to petrochemical, health care and other vertical markets.
In addition to her interest in the technology and desire to succeed, Head said a key to her success has been “a long list of solid mentors who … encouraged me to learn more and expand my skill set.”
That, and a “stubborn streak” that has allowed her to ignore any occasional gender bias she has encountered along the way.
Head does not have any women on her sales team, “but I'm always on the lookout for qualified women to add to the team,” she said, noting that there are a number of women on the Kratos sales team across the country. “Our company promotes women not only in sales but in technical positions as well.”
Asked if there are any advantages to being a woman in her role, she said one benefit is when you’re working in a vertical market “where the customer base is predominantly female, … such as retail or property management.”
And her advice for other women considering working in the security industry? “Don’t be intimidated by the technology and don’t shy away from [the security industry] because it’s more dominated by males. Women have different skill sets, different perspectives on situations and that brings tremendous value for the customer and the company.”