In the High Flyer spotlight this week is Katrina Barr, director of product architecture at Belfast technology company Cayan
What was your first job?
At 13 I worked in the family run shoe store as a sales assistant. It taught me to be able to communicate with anyone, no matter who walked through the door. My first ‘real’ job was junior programmer at National Australia Group here in Belfast.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a BSc Computer Science and MSc Telecommunications both from Queen’s University.
To what do you attribute your success?
I doubt I will ever wake up and believe I’ve made it – I will always be on a journey. I have a strong family and home life that keep me sane. I also do a lot of outdoor activities which is a good balance for a desk job by day. I genuinely like my job and I think that really helps.
Who do you look up to in business?
I’ve encountered my fair share of people in business. I learned something from every one of them; even on occasion what not to be like. I have not worked closely enough with any famous business personality to pick them out as one main inspiration. At times, like anyone, I am inspired by the brightest billion dollar innovation right down to the placement student who thinks outside the box and adds that little extra value to a project. Those little bits of extra value are what fuels a great company after all.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
I appreciate my own failings. Everyone is better than I am at something (or many things). At times, we all have something to bring to the table. Many heads are generally better than one. It doesn’t matter who came up with a good idea, just use the best one available and let everyone know where it came from. Everyone in a team wants to be valuable and valued. If we grow that attitude, every project produced is the best it can be and people feel satisfied, they have produced great work with the help of others and have returned the favour.
What website or app could you not do without?
I’m not a great shopper. Amazon is great for me. They’ve really cracked appealing to the lazy consumer!
What was the last book you read?
I delve into more non-fiction now than reading books cover to cover. The last actual novel was The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett.
What car do you drive?
A Land Rover Defender 90. I’m the only person I know that drives the car of their dreams. There is nothing on that car that can’t be replaced with a screwdriver (admittedly not by me). It will never go out of fashion (because it’s probably never been in fashion). No matter how many parts I get galvanised, she will always be a ‘rust bucket’ at heart. It’s a love-hate relationship, but I couldn’t part with her.
Tell us something interesting about yourself
I am open to bribes – especially of the chocolate variety. Approach me with a packet of chocolate biscuits and you have my undivided attention.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I keep two horses, Samson and Inci. They represent a lifelong obsession with equines. Horses are my greatest teachers. They require strict discipline balanced with a tonne of kindness and compassion. They keep me out of mischief as they consume all my spare time.