With iVolve CEO, Kim Parascos
Recently, iVolve CEO Kim Parascos, spoke at the Austmine Women in STEM: METS Career Pathway Program at Queensland University of Technology. The program was aimed at second, third and fourth year female university students in a number of different field including engineering, computer sciences, geology, metallurgy and mathematics.
Kim took some time to talk about women in STEM, iVolve, leadership and how the all work together.
When you were growing up who were your female role models?
KP: My mum, was and still is my number 1 role model. She wasn’t just a teacher and principal, and l know this from when I’ve spoken with her ex-students over the years, she literally changed people lives. She was extremely active at school and wasn’t a 9 – 3 teacher, she was also a big part of their fundraising and the wider community.
I feel that it is extremely important to surround yourself with an awesome team of women. I am fortunate to know some really inspirational ladies doing amazing things and it’s very helpful to be able to talk to them regularly for ideas, feedback and guidance. Surround yourself with the people you want to be.
Did you always know you wanted to be an engineer?
KP: No, for a long-time l wanted to be a spy, because that’s what little kids do. Then l wanted to be an archaeologist because you go through the dinosaur phase, then it was medicine which I’m really glad l didn’t do because l wouldn’t have coped with the lack of sleep at all.
It was probably during grade 11/12 when l decided l wanted to be an engineer. l took an IT subject at school and was at the top of the class. At the time l thought that showed l was really awesome but l had a lot to learn.
You have obviously had a very impressive career. Can you give us a brief outline of the highlights and some of the challenges you have had to overcome?
KP: There are lessons every day. I don’t think of my career as being impressive, when you work you just do what you need to do. I think what you learn on the way is that what other people find impressive you don’t necessarily see the same way.
We got through a really difficult 3-year period of a couple of mining boom and busts. This one felt particularly difficult because of the extended good times and the sudden crash. It’s actually the small suppliers that get hurt the most because we can’t reduce resources easily, and we don’t want to because frankly, we need our team to actually get through the bad times. Unfortunately, there were quite a few companies who didn’t so l can take pride that we scraped through.
I’m proud that we have sites overseas that we are able to manage from Brisbane. We’ve got a really great team here. Everybody has a purpose and is fulfilling an important role. l think it’s really hard to get that mix right, and l think we’re in a good place, looking to put more people on which is a great position to be in.
What is it about iVolve that helped it to survive those challenging times?
KP: It comes down to what we’ve identified as our core values, we really care. We care about each other definitely but we really care about our customers. I remember during the first year of the mining bust, which was really tough and when most companies did fall over, l was talking to one of our customers and was told that the CEO of that company had spoken to the team and said work out who your key suppliers are and do whatever you can to help them through this because it’s those suppliers who help us be successful. We were very fortunate that we had strong relationships with our key customers and that we had chosen those partnerships well and they knew the importance of iVolve, there was a real mutual care.
Why is it important for women just starting to their career in STEM to see successful women like yourself at the forefront?
KP: You need to know that it’s possible.
What would you say is your biggest achievement?
KP: I’ve been in business with my husband for longer than we’ve been married - over 20 years - AND we have had children through it.
What advice would you give women looking to move into positions of leadership?
KP: Do it. It can be a tough journey, but anything in life that is worthwhile takes effort and determination.
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