Passion is not the only thing that drives Karen Dudley to excel but it is her purpose, which is the strongest connection to the soul. “When someone says to me ‘you can’t’, I make sure I upskill myself and those around me and I say ‘go for it’.”
“Take time to listen and engage people and staff. Emotional intelligence is one of the key aspects, as you will embrace people’s minds, hearts and intellect,” says Karen Dudley.
Dudley is currently working with the Western Cape education department as the director of education for early childhood development until grade nine. It’s easy to see why she values the idea of emotional intelligence when you take into consideration the work she does.
In her role as director, Dudley manages the curriculum portfolio for the department. She is in charge of a strong team that works to improve education for students from the early childhood development stage to grade nine. With Dudley at the helm, the department has managed to achieve many significant milestones. She says she is passionate about improving education in the Western Cape as well as in the country.
A central ethos Dudley lives by is to be humble in spite of academic or other achievements. She says: “Always treat people with respect. Be empathetic, but lead by example.” This quality of humility is clearly seen in her work.
Although no person is perfect, what makes Dudley stand out is her ability to acknowledge her mistakes and work to improve herself. She is also a team player.
“It’s not only passion that drives me to excel but, more importantly, it is my purpose that drives me the most. Purpose for me is the strongest connection to the soul. When someone says to me ‘you can’t’, I make sure I upskill myself and those around me and I say ‘go for it’.”
It is this idea of always striving to better herself that makes Dudley respected by so many of her peers.
Not only is she respected, Dudley has also been awarded many times for the hard work she does for the department. She says it was one of the biggest surprises of her life when she was selected as the head of curriculum in District Central and for two years they were awarded as Second Best Large District out of 80 districts nationwide. This was because of the excellent results achieved in grade 12.
The district under her leadership was also awarded nationally as best district for the most bachelor passes in the country. Dudley says this was a surprise, but taking into consideration her hard work and dedication, it probably didn’t come as a surprise to those around her.
She was also a volleyball coach for over 10 years. She coached young people between the ages of 12 to 19, and each team retained the provincial championship for 10 years. She counts this as one of her proudest achievements.