Keelings CEO describes encounter with deadly spider during a business meeting 5 years ago

Keelings CEO describes encounter with deadly spider during a business meeting

Caroline Keeling, the CEO of Keelings Fruits, describes the moment some business associates realised she was a woman to be reckoned with.

Speaking to host Tadhg Enright on The Architects of Business, in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™, Caroline Keeling admitted that she has faced discrimination due to her gender in the past.


Caroline is the CEO of Keelings, one of Ireland’s leading fruit companies, but says she has struggled in the past to be taken seriously because she is a woman.

This is particularly prevalent overseas.

“I come back to Ireland a lot, going, ‘I’m quite happy that I’m Irish and that I live in Ireland,’” she insists.

Caroline describes how she was doing business with a number of men overseas in an unnamed country and how they initially expressed surprise that she held such a prominent role in her company’s fortunes.


She won them over when, standing out in the yard, the three gentlemen noticed she was standing on the leg of a creature that was out to cause some serious damage.

“I looked down because they were all looking at my foot, and they stood back a little bit, and I’d stood on the leg of a very large spider,” she explained to host Tadhg Enright.

“Normally I don’t mind spiders at all, but it was a very hot country and a very big spider and – I later found out – a very poisonous spider.

“I couldn’t take my foot off and let it off, I knew it might bite me, so I stomped on it.


“After that, they were ‘yes ma’am, no ma’am, three bags full ma’am’. That lifted me up in their estimation and we got on fine from there.”

Listen to the full episode here…

Caroline, an EOY Finalist in 2013, also revealed how her dyslexia ultimately helped her get ahead in business.


“I think the one thing I learned about dyslexia was, yes, there’s some challenges to it in the way your brain works and in the way your brain sees things," she says. "But there’s also some great benefits to it, I think everyone has it impact them slightly differently.

“With mine, there’s a level of creativity and seeing things differently that I think is part of dyslexia that has helped me."

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