Launching a business during a pandemic may not seem like the most ideal choice. But for Karen Howard, a qualified and Nationally Accredited Mediator, she believed launching Mediation First was more essential than ever for the local community.
With changed business and working arrangements amplifying lots of different conflicts and disputes locally, nationally and globally (including commercial leasing supplier and contractor disputes and workplace conflict), Karen believes her business could provide an outlet and solution for many people.
“Launching a business in the current climate could be seen as utterly crazy, but I’ve always looked at things differently, and I wholeheartedly believe that now is actually the perfect time,” Karen said.
According to Karen, Mediation is often the ideal first step for resolving a range of conflicts and disputes.
Mediation is the formal process whereby an independent and impartial person (i.e. a Mediator) helps people in conflict or dispute to reach mutually agreeable outcomes.
“Whilst not every matter is suitable for mediation, it is equally true that not every matter needs to go to litigation either,” Karen said.
“It is crucial that the parties come to mediation with goodwill and the intent to reach mutually agreeable outcomes, otherwise the effectiveness of the mediation model is compromised.”
Mediation is usually a quick process when compared with court and is less expensive than litigation.
More importantly, for many people, the matter can be resolved in private without a public court appearance.
“33 per cent of the participants in my Accreditation program were experienced and very competent Barristers, each suggesting a level of fatigue with the slow, litigious, negative court system and looking for alternative dispute resolution where it’s appropriate,” she said.
Combining almost 40 collective years of experience gained from owning successful businesses and serving on Boards as a respected Non-executive Director and Board Chair, Karen has career-pivoted into the Mediation profession at what she believes is just the right time.
“There is no doubt that I’ve had to compromise on the fun of a traditional business launch and the bubbly to celebrate,” she said.
“However Mediation isn’t thought of as a traditional way of resolving conflict or dispute either. My focus is on supporting local business people who need help and assistance right now – the celebration party can wait.”
In the current COVID-19 environment all mediations are taking place via online platforms such as Zoom, or on teleconference calls, meaning people can participate from the comfort and security of their own homes.
Practicing the Mediation Model, which was established by the Australian Disputes Centre, Karen is also a member of the Resolutions Institute and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors
IMAGE | Nationally Accredited Mediator, Karen Howard, launches Mediation First