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A Day in the Life: Senior Director of IT Infrastructure and Helpdesk Karen Worsley

Written by Molly Forman on Sep 10, 2020

Related content: Diversity And Inclusion, 2U Cape Town

This story is a part of our ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. Throughout September we’re celebrating Heritage Month in South Africa and featuring 2Utes located in Cape Town.

Karen Worsley has always been inspired by technology and its potential to add value to people’s lives. She was fascinated by how technology can change the way the world operates, so it was only natural that she pursue technology as a career.

Since leaving school, Karen has enjoyed nearly 22 years navigating the world of IT. She got her start working on projects to ensure government organizations were not impacted by the Y2K bug. And from there, she joined an information and communications technology (ICT) service company, where she was fortunate enough to study and certify with vendor and industry qualifications.

Throughout her career journey, Karen continued to find success. She spent more than a decade at a corporate internet service provider, beginning as a junior monitoring engineer and rising in the ranks to become a regional operations manager.

Always looking for new opportunities, Karen then landed a prime role at Takalot.com, the biggest ecommerce company in South Africa. Serving as engineering director of IT infrastructure, she built out a multi-functional team and implemented a number of successful strategic projects and initiatives.

In 2018, Karen once again sought a new adventure, and this time it would be at 2U as senior director of IT infrastructure and Helpdesk.

Read on to learn about Karen’s love of technology, appreciation for a good challenge, and her perspective on Heritage Month.

Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?

I get really excited about education as a way to help people grow and develop. The fact that 2U uses technology (my other passion) to make this more accessible meant it was a perfect match for me. Once I was introduced to the team and culture, there was no turning back.

How would you describe your role as a senior director of IT infrastructure and Helpdesk?

My role is all about trying to solve problems people don’t yet know they have. I collaborate with stakeholders from departments across the business to help navigate the ever-changing world of technology.

My team investigates and proposes solutions to improve core IT infrastructure to minimise downtime for employees. We need to be accessible to everyone in the workplace, resolving IT frustrations as quickly as possible.

What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job?

It’s always rewarding when we successfully implement a new (or improved) system or service. As a customer service team, it’s extremely challenging (but also extremely important) to make sure everyone feels like they are our number one priority.

What’s your favorite part about working at 2U?

I love the fact that 2U promotes wellness and community service, which creates an environment where people enjoy a great work-life balance. There are very few companies that see the value in this.

What does Heritage Month mean to you?

It is a reminder to learn about and celebrate the diverse cultures and traditions we have in South Africa.

How has your cultural heritage influenced your career?

My heritage has taught me to be highly adaptable and respectful, which has allowed me to keep up with the fast-paced environments in which I have worked. As part of the rainbow nation, South Africans (including myself) appreciate and nurture diverse cultures, getting to know each other is important and we build lasting relationships.

During Heritage Month, you’re encouraged to celebrate your culture and the diversity of your beliefs and traditions. How will you be celebrating this year?

As a big part of our South African heritage, we love to braai (otherwise known as a BBQ). We use charcoal or wood (no gas) and cook traditional food such as boerewors (spiced sausage), pap (made from maize) with chakalaka (spicy tomato relish). All of this is enjoyed with family and friends while sipping on a great glass of local wine from one of the Cape’s many vineyards (we have the longest-stretching wine route in the world).

What’s your favorite South African saying/phrase/word?

Padkos: Food you pack and take with you on a journey (usually on a long car trip).

Tell us about a favorite place in South Africa where you feel most rooted to your heritage.

I enjoy spending time in the Drakensberg Mountains, found in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. We spent many family holidays in the area, hiking to see the various caves and San rock art.

Out of everything you’ve done 2U so far, what are you proudest of?

After the lockdown announcement by the South African president, we enabled the Cape Town team of ±700 people to work remotely, including providing internet for about 80 employees as well as 300 UPS’s to mitigate the risk of load shedding (rolling power blackouts).

What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U?

Work hard, play hard, and enjoy it—you get out what you put in.

Are you interested in a job like Karen’s? Check out our Tech & Data Science team page for information on open positions. We’re hiring.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.