Opportunities abound for women in the golf industry – if they’re prepared to seek them out and grasp them, according to Karen Proctor
Since stumbling into golf in England 13 years ago, Proctor has prospered. Now, as Director of Sales for APAC for Textron Specialized Vehicles (TSV), covering the Jacobsen, E-Z-GO and Cushman brands, and a Board Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, she’s become a prominent figure in the industry.
And she believes there’s no reason why more women should not follow her lead and assert themselves in the many different business segments within golf. “I don’t think that many young ladies understand that a career in golf is an opportunity,” said Proctor.
“If someone hadn’t approached me when I was younger and asked if I would consider a role in golf sales, I would never have ended up in golf. But it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
“A lot of women I meet that are working in the golf sector have started their careers in an alternative industry and then transitioned, rather than making a conscious decision at a school age to pursue a career in golf. As an industry, we need to be more active in schools and colleges to let people know of the options that are available to them and what skill sets are required.”
Recounting her own career path, Proctor said: “I’d been in the hospitality industry before I was given an opportunity in golf by a gentleman I worked with. He was general manager at a four-star resort and was looking for somebody with a sales skill set and also the ability to think outside the box. He asked me if I would be interested. I said: ‘Absolutely, I love a challenge. Let’s see what we can do’.”
After serving 16 months as Golf Sales Manager at Carden Park Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in the English country of Cheshire, Proctor was promoted to Director of Golf in 2008.
She held that position for five years before joining Ransomes-Jacobsen, part of TSV, where she worked her way up to Director, International Marketing, responsible for creating innovative ideas for the promotion of Ransomes, Jacobsen, E-Z-GO, Cushman and Arctic Cat brands to existing and new target markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific.
“I am incredibly lucky to work for a company who invest in their employees. During my time with Textron I have been privileged to attend various leadership and business courses,” said Proctor.
At Textron, Proctor reported to Heidi McNary, now Vice President, Tracker at TSV.
“Heidi changed the way I looked at leadership and has been an incredible help to me,” said Proctor. “As soon as she moved to her role at Tracker, I asked her if she’d consider mentoring me. When she said ‘yes’, I was delighted as I knew I could learn so much from her and her experiences.
“Finding good mentors is vital. But don’t just look for women mentors. Look for a mix of mentors, both female and male, who offer different skill sets. Depending on where you are at in your career and what you need to work on, this may mean that these mentors change throughout the years.
“Woking in a male dominated industry, I often get asked by other women how I feel about being the only woman in the room. My response is that I don’t actually notice.
“I see myself as being equal to any of my male counterparts. I was employed for my skills and I am here to do the job to the best of my ability, just like my peers,” added Proctor, who participated in a recent LinksAsia webinar on Women in the Asian Golf Industry that also featured Chyloe Kurdas, Female Engagement Officer, Golf Australia, and Lyn Yeo, President of the Singapore Ladies Golf Association.
Proctor said: “To progress it’s important that you own your career. Self-learn, network and, most importantly, try and find a couple of key people you can work with as mentors to help guide you through challenges and learn from their experiences. It is important to have someone you can reach out to for advice, because there are times when you will need it and a great mentor can help catapult your career.”