For a special International Women's Day TeaTalk, this month we sit down with Kate Templar our Client Services Director for a cuppa and a chat. We talk about her career development and how she would encourage more women to pursue senior leadership positions.
How did you first get into the industry?
I was working on the client services and implementation team for a Canadian company, which managed the digital presence of hospitality groups globally. My previous boss started a hotel chain and he put me forward for a job at the agency that did their creative and comms. I hadn’t got a clue at the point what the world of advertising really meant or what the job entailed – but coming from a background in art & design, I’ve always loved being involved in creative, so thought it was a good opportunity to be involved in creative, without having to do it myself.
What made you pursue a career in client services?
From the start of my career, even before I moved into our industry, I’ve been in client services/ relationships. I’ve always loved meeting people, getting to know them and building on those relationships. I think it’s great to be able to understand how different types of people work, the challenges they have in their own businesses and helping them to overcome that through effective strategy and creative. I think working closely and understanding each other’s challenges & strengths is absolutely the best way for both clients and agency to get the best out of the relationship.
What is the most important piece of advice you have ever been given?
There’s loads – but two that stand out. Firstly, I can remember my first boss at Cogent telling me that she would always have my back and support me, even when things went wrong (and of course things do go wrong), unless I tried to hide it or wasn’t open about it – if I did that she wouldn’t be able to help me. That has always stuck with me – it gives me the confidence to ask for help when I need it, or stick my hand up when I don’t understand something. I think the ability to do that helps to build relationships across the board. People respect you far more when you’re open and can admit when you’re wrong.
The second was that everyone suffers from imposter syndrome and insecurities. I try to remind myself of that often.
How do you think we can encourage more women to pursue senior leadership positions?
I think it’s about showing people that it is achievable and taken seriously within your organisation. Attracting and developing women into leadership roles requires company wide support driven from the top. We need to ensure that we’re committed to supporting everyone, addressing any skills gaps and providing strong mentors (I’ve had some great ones) to not only retain amazing people, but to drive forward inclusion through succession and growth.
What are some of the key elements that have contributed to the development of your career?
People I’ve worked with – I’ve worked with a lot of patient people, from a lot of different specialisms and backgrounds, who have allowed me to ask a lot of questions and have spent time taking me through how and why they approach things the way they do. That without a doubt has been the best way for me to learn.
Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?
I’ve worked with some really amazing women who I’ve admired for a variety of reasons – I think it’s hard to pin down the most influential. Their commonality is that they have been willing to take risks and be bold in their approach. I try to take little elements of each of them (even though I find it hard sometimes to convince myself that I can do it).
Why do you think diversity in the workplace is important?
Diversity brings everything you need as a business – better creativity, problem solving, innovation, productivity – the list goes on - different perspectives and opinions bring better solutions across the board.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to women starting their career?
Know and appreciate your strengths and invest time learning from others and challenging yourself.