Karen Ellis

National Services Manager - USA
Spirax-Sarco - Engineering

How did you get here?
I worked in professional sport previously. I was keen to get out of that industry because, whilst I learnt a huge amount and developed my career, it was utterly exhausting and weekends were not my own. Having lived in Cheltenham for ten years, I had seen Spirax-Sarco and was encouraged to explore the organisation further.

I started as Commercial Manager in UK sales. After proving myself in the role, I was invited to join the leadership team and adopt the technical and services functions of the business. Having come from a multi-functional role, I saw the opportunity to create efficiencies by managing them together. I was later promoted to National Services Manager and now run an external sales function as well.

What do you like most about your job?
I love managing and creating high-performing teams. It is really rewarding to see people progress, one of my direct reports has just been promoted and I couldn’t be more delighted for him. I believe that role enjoyment is 99% who you work with, so I have always invested time in building good relationships.

What does a typical day look like for you?
As a leader, I always want to be available for my team, my door is always open, so I tend to start my day early in order to respond to emails and tie up any admin before my team arrive at work. My daily activities tend to include; one-to-one meetings with team members, telephone calls with my direct reports who are in the field, strategy meetings with the services team, leadership discussions and writing reports for the business.

What would you say to a senior female candidate joining Spirax-Sarco Engineering?
Actually, whether the candidate was male or female, my advice would be the same. Spirax-Sarco Engineering is the type of place where hard work creates opportunity.

I believe I have got to this position because of my skill set and commitment to the role.

I have delivered on objectives for a number of General Managers in the business and therefore I have received recognition. To a female, don’t be put off by what you perceive to be a male dominated industry. There is no denying that it is, but it’s not a problem as true value is recognised at Spirax-Sarco Engineering. In fact, after deciding to leave professional sport, Spirax-Sarco Engineering was one of the few organisations that recognised my transferable skill set and could see how they may be able to harness it, despite the change in industry.


“As a leader, I always want to be available for my team, my door is always open.”

What has been the proudest moment in your career?
Working in professional sport was pretty tough as a female. Exclusion is almost the worst form of bullying in a workplace and I very much felt it. I nearly gave up but something kept me going, and I managed to break through the glass ceiling. I was the first female to be recruited to the executive board of a rugby club and I am proud that I kept my resolve.

How much opportunity is there for personal development at Spirax-Sarco Engineering?
There is loads of opportunity to develop your career at Spirax-Sarco Engineering. It is a place where you reap what you sow, so you need to seek out the opportunities and work hard to get the biggest rewards.

What are you excited about for the future with Spirax-Sarco Engineering?
In 2020, I am moving to South Carolina in the USA to manage our services business there. Relocation to another continent was never on my bucket list but working for a truly global company that enables me to live and work in another country with their support, is such a fantastic opportunity, I thought I would be mad not to grasp it with both hands.

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