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Young director stakes her claim

EXPERIENCE and responsibility across a range of industry sectors flag Kirsty Watkins as a prime candidate for the 2003 WA Business News 40under40 Awards.

At 29 years of age, Ms Watkins is the director of Internet Business Corporation (IBC), has completed a graduate diploma and an MBA, and is a nominee in the 2003 40under40 Awards.

Her first major career move came when she was appointed to a sales and marketing position with local private petroleum company Gull Petroleum.

“I was young and it was a big challenge for me. It was privately owned and they never had anyone looking at the sales and marketing side. Their strategy was selling fuel at cheap rates,” Ms Watkins said.

“We embarked on a strategy of getting rid of the old sites and cleaning them up and rebranding them. BP and Caltex had begun opening the 24-hour convenience stores and so Gull had to fundamentally change in order to compete.”

Part of the challenge of driving the change was adapting her internal communication style, she said.

“The hardest thing was going into a very traditional, male oriented company that recognised it had to undergo fundamental change but that didn’t want to hear that from a young woman,” Ms Watkins said.

“I really learned that I had to involve and include people who weren’t familiar with the new processes; it was a great learning curve.”

She also was instrumental in Gull Petroleum’s expansion to the eastern seaboard.

Ms Watkins then left the fuel business to join the (then) booming Internet sector.

“A person who was consulting to a software company approached me to do their marketing. I looked at the opportunity and at that stage the Internet was all happening and I said: ‘I’d like to learn this’,” she said.

Ms Watkins was later approached by Pretzel Logic to develop its business.

“It was in the height of everything. It was really exciting driving that expansion,” she said. “We grew from 10 people to 60 during my time there.”

Ms Watkins said her decision to move to IBC was based on gaining a stake in the company and agreeing with the company’s core values in customer service.

“They [IBC] offered me a position that would enable me to gain an equity over time,” she said. “I was brought in to manage the development of the organisations and oversee the operations.

“Since I joined two and a half years ago the company has grown from 10 people to 30; we have recently been awarded the Local Government Association of WA contract, that’s a $1.25 million dollar contract and we beat the likes of Sanderson and AlphaWest.”

Last week IBC won a 2002 Yellow Pages Asia Pacific Information Communication Technology Award for Excellence in the tourism and transport category.

The company was chosen above Pretzel Logic and the Peel Region Tourism Association for its work in developing the Perth Conference and Exhibition Centre website.

A full list of the award winners will be featured in WA Business News next week

Nominations are now open for the 2003 WA Business News 40under40 Awards. To make a nomination visit www.40under40.com.au

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