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Defining Your Own Path: A Spotlight on Sarah Straffen

We want to recognise those who have paved their own way since joining the company. Sometimes unexpected interests and talents can lead to exciting new opportunities. Sarah Straffen is a shining example of this…

Sarah joined KK from a different company having previously worked in a variety of roles - including Lead Group Coordinator, Project Coordinator, Bid Coordinator and Project Office Coordinator. Initially, Sarah joined us to cover the Bid Coordinator role whilst gaining some experience in Quality Assurance. Now, she has transitioned into the role of Compliance Manager, with ownership of our ISO9001 and ISO4001 systems, as well as wider facilities and H&S coordination.

Sarah’s enthusiasm for processes and systems alongside her attention to detail made her the perfect fit for this role. Her genuine interest in processing and methodology has been supported by several training courses to support Sarah in her professional development.

We are shining the light on Sarah’s accomplishments, and sharing more about her career journey at KK…

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

Every day in this role brings new and exciting challenges. There are numerous avenues to explore, allowing me to collaborate with others and expand my expertise in facilities, systems, and sustainability. The variety of the work is one of my favourite parts about it and keeps me motivated. As someone who is process driven, this role aligns perfectly with my strengths. Companies require individuals who possess a legislative mindset, like me, to work behind the scenes. I have a holistic view of the whole picture and approach tasks with a step-by-step methodology. Breaking everything down into manageable steps is crucial. I'm a multitasker which enables me to juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously.

How has KK supported you exploring an alternative career route?

During my time in this role, I have taken a self-led approach and KK has provided me with the necessary tools to continue growing in my position. I have been given the freedom to develop and carry out my responsibilities. This has included seeking assistance from external consultants and utilising health and safety resources when needed. This role cannot be defined by strict boundaries, as there are constant opportunities for training and further development. However, I have felt supported throughout and it continues to evolve.

How do you see your role?

As a business we’ve embraced ISO 9001 and 14001 for over 20 years. Its shapes the way we work. My role is to ensure our systems evolve with the accreditations as well as exploring new avenues to enhance our processes, such as the ISO 45001 accreditation. At project level, essentially, my role is like that of a traffic warden, ensuring our systems and processes are being deployed correctly by our teams.

How do you work to develop our systems within the company?

I have been working alongside our H&S director to progress our H&S policy into a management system, with the goal of achieving ISO 45001 with the processes and systems still in progress. This is a very important project and ISO milestone we are working towards to align with our current accreditations of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. 

Would you say that you adopt this style of methodological thinking in your everyday life?

In general, I do find it helpful to establish a clear plan in my life and anticipate what lies ahead. For instance, when I go on holiday, I typically create an itinerary to organise activities. Having this structure brings a sense of calm and control. Of course, there are plenty of moments in life when it's necessary to embrace the unexpected chaos and be spontaneous, but overall, this approach works well for me. I believe in the power of thinking ahead and being prepared for potential challenges that may arise.