Persistence overcomes preconceptions

25 October 2018

If you’ve ever doubted your capacity to lead a successful career, Karen’s story is for you.

Blind since birth, Karen has dedicated her career to changing the lives of people experiencing difficulties. As Vision Australia’s General Manager of Queensland Client Services and of Advocacy and Engagement, creating an equal playing field for people who are blind or have low vision is her lifelong goal.

But due to misconceptions around hiring people who are blind or have low vision, the MBA graduate was destined to work far harder than most people to lead a successful career.

“I gained my first paid work of any significance when I was 24-years-old. It was very hard for people with disability to get paid work. So I volunteered at the Victims of Crime Association because I wanted to prove to the world and to myself that I could do whatever I wanted. The people I helped felt that they could relate to me as they could see that I had also gone through tough times.

“I graduated as a psychologist from the University of Queensland. After university, I applied for 200 jobs and got 10 interviews. Eventually I secured work in mental health hospitals,” says Karen.

Karen Knight standing against a blank wall

Through sheer persistence and refusal to accept rejection, the 50-year-old established her career as an allied health professional, instigating mental health projects that support young people at risk and families at risk of losing their children, across Brisbane.

According to Vision Australia Chief Executive Officer Ron Hooton, Karen stands out among her peers.

“She is first and foremost a leader. There is no difference in her performance compared to the other general managers at Vision Australia. She sits comfortably as one of the best leaders in the executive team,” says Ron. 

Ron is ready to encourage any employer to consider high achievers like Karen to join their workforce. 

“The biggest barrier to employment is ignorance. With accessible systems a person like Karen faces no barriers whatsoever in excelling in their profession. Employers need to open their minds to a highly intelligent workforce and to put away their preconceived notion that a disability of blindness is consistent with an inability to work. I invite any employer to spend a day with my staff to see how we achieve success,” says Ron.

In the lead up to the Victorian state election, Vision Australia is highlighting some of the successful employment stories of our clients. We believe in creating more job opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision. If this is important to you, please join us and share your voice.