I didn't get where I am today... by being afraid to take risks

Denise Kaufmann, CEO of Ketchum UK, explains how she got to the top.

Denise Kaufmann: "As CEO I’m still restless but I don’t stop to plan career moves."
Denise Kaufmann: "As CEO I’m still restless but I don’t stop to plan career moves."

Everyone talks about success. Our Facebook profiles highlight victories. The movies tell stories of triumph. Sport and business love a winner. But not enough people talk real-world mistakes and miscalculations.

I suppose what I have learned is that if you are talented, you work bloody hard and you learn quickly, then you can identify when to take risks and how to change direction quickly when things aren’t optimised.

In the long run people respect those willing to stand up and make the big calls. And they’ll forgive occasional minor niggles along the way. You just have to be willing to take a risk.

I learned about calculating risk at my first swimming lesson. The pool instructor asked who could swim. I was four but I knew I was in safe hands. So I said yes and I jumped right in.

It was the start of my first lesson, and of course I couldn’t swim. But I was all in and ready to find out.

I started off in an ad agency in Cleveland. I’d always loved words and I could write quickly. Ad copy soon turned to news writing, which in turn led to my first job in public relations – and that opened up a world of possibilities.

Since that time, I’ve I moved to Chicago, Hong Kong, New York and then London – and in the process travelled the globe.

As CEO I’m still restless but I don’t stop to plan career moves. I love what I do, the people around me, and I think it’s vital to stay in the moment because that’s what gives you the confidence to take risks.

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.

News by email...