SheBrisbane is invited to this Friday’s Cocktail High Tea to support The Lady Musgrave Trust and thought it would be a great opportunity to speak to Karen Lyon Reid – CEO of Queensland’s oldest charity!
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who you are and what you do
I was born in England but grew up in Canada. I met my husband Mike when in university studying an honours degree at the Faculty of Architecture, Manitoba. Not long after we married, we moved to Australia (almost 30 years ago now) to explore a new life together and escape the cold! My career journey has led me from running my own interior architecture business in Canada, to Australia where I have been a designer, ran Queensland’s largest property portfolio (with over 400 staff), held various board roles, and am now the Chief Executive Officer of The Lady Musgrave Trust.
The Lady Musgrave Trust is Queensland’s oldest charity at 132 years old, providing leadership and inspiration to the many homeless women across Queensland and offering accommodation and support services to them and their children. I also love to travel with my husband and paint huge and interesting artworks.
What are you most proud of?
My family of course!
Which person inspires you the most?
Many people have inspired me throughout my life – my parents, husband, mentors, the people I met travelling and so on. Several years ago, a friend of mine found herself in a very dangerous domestic violence circumstance. Her courage inspired me and was a contributor to my work now at The Lady Musgrave Trust. I am continually inspired by the professionals in the communities and homelessness sector that work on the front line to change people’s lives. They are amazing people and it is an honour to work among them.
What has been a life changing moment for you?
I have had many life changing moments – but starting a new life in Australia with my husband has to be the biggest.
What drives you?
Being the best in as many aspects of life that I can be. I really thrive on creativity, building towards something and continual growth. My work with The Lady Musgrave Trust is a great example – continually developing the Trust along with the Board to make a difference to a woman’s life. To change their path so they can lead a healthier and happier life.
What are the perceptions around homelessness?
There is certainly a need to change public perceptions of homeless women in Queensland. It is alarming that some 2,000 women may be homeless in one night in Brisbane alone. Homelessness come in all forms – women of all types find themselves homeless for a variety of reasons including family and domestic violence; they may become unemployed; or recently separated and have no funds; they may be unwell either physically or mentally. Homelessness is complex and not always the people we stereotypically think of. Many women can find themselves homeless very unrepentantly – and for some safety is the number one priority as many women will leave their home with their children and handbag only (usually with a mobile phone in their bag).
What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt (in life or business)?
In life, I believe the trick is to learn from all of the lessons that life gifts you, be they small or large, good or bad. I am the driver of my life, whatever that may be. I am a firm believer that most things are possible in the business world, but real success is reliant on strong leadership and the involvement of all types of people that contribute to the whole. Harnessing the energy and unique talent of everyone is the key.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and by whom?
That I can do anything if I apply myself – by my parents of course!
Quote to live by?
I don’t have one – life isn’t like that.
What’s next for you?
To continue to grow. I think of it like the evolution of Karen in all aspects of my life. At The Lady Musgrave Trust, I am working on an exciting project that we hope will change women’s lives across Queensland. The Handy Guide is a booklet that can be used by the entire community (including women that find themselves homeless, friends, professions, businesses, government organisations and more). It provides thousands of contact details to assist women across Queensland including emergency contacts, sheltered accommodation support, legal services, health and nutrition services and counselling for homeless women. We have just launched the new mobile application and we’re working on the regional content now. See it at thehandyguide.com or www.ladymusgravetrust.org.au.
What’s your greatest regret?
I have no regrets, however, as I get older there are times I think “it would have been great to have known these things when I was younger,” but that is life isn’t it?
What are your 3 favourite Brisbane cafe’s you like to visit when you are craving your morning coffee?
My husband Mike makes me the best coffee ever! I don’t need a café – lucky girl!
Summarise Brisbane in 3 words…
Safe, growing, great-weather (actually that’s four words!)
She Society is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.