5 minutes with Karen Harrison

Karen Harrison, Group Marketing manager at AF International.


Describe what you do in fewer than 20 words.

Develop innovative strategies to drive the business forward, which includes managing and overseeing marketing activities.

The worst job you’ve ever had? 

I took a ‘year out’ working in Australia; I think picking courgettes and squashes was probably the worst − it was back breaking.

If you weren’t doing your present job, what job would you like to be doing? 

The position of Environmental Officer would be good; I would love to find bugs and shut down dirty kitchens. That or a travel writer for Lonely Planet.

Your best piece of advice to a colleague? 

Always be open and honest, don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure you always enjoy what you do!

The most memorable travel experience you’ve had while in the OP industry? 

I was coming back from India after visiting an exhibition and as the plane was touching down at Heathrow it immediately took off again. I was terrified! The pilot calmly said: “Sorry about that, there was just another plane on the runway…”

What do you think has been the best innovation in the OP industry in the last two years? 

This is difficult as obviously I don’t purchase or use 99% of what is out there, but I really like the Pilot FriXion Pen. Easy deleting of errors is
always welcomed. 

Your favourite event on the OP circuit? 

To be honest, I enjoy most of them. The dealer group conferences are great as I like to meet and chat to the people who are actually selling our products and who we support with marketing.

What will be the biggest single issue affecting the OP industry over the next five years? 

Less paper − people are printing less, moving towards QR codes, for example. Years ago there was talk of a paperless office and with new technology maybe this is a step forward.

Your greatest strength? 

Probably juggling a lot of tasks at once.

Have you got a claim to fame? 

No, unless you count having my picture taken with Hugh Dennis at the European Office Products Awards dinner in Frankfurt. 

What is your favourite movie? 

I don’t really have a favourite, but I like a really good thriller. I read the Stieg Larsson trilogy and then watched the three original movies, they were great. The dubbing is a little strange at first but you get used to it.

What sports teams do you support and why? 

I’m not really a sports person, but I like watching the Six Nations, mainly for the legs and weird ears!

The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months? 

Faith by Peter James.

Have you ever done anything dangerous? 

I jumped out of a plane for Barnardo’s which is AF’s chosen charity. I was so scared I took out two life insurance policies! It was an amazing experience, but I definitely won’t be doing it again.