Sitting at my kitchen table, coffee in one hand and phone in the other, it seems like any other ordinary day. In fact, for most of us, today, and the last few months, have been anything but ordinary! For Kate Reid, starting a new role as Global Director of Communications and Brand at Informa Tech, these unprecedented times have certainly brought about different challenges and opportunities that she was not expecting.
I caught up with Kate over a virtual coffee to find out more about her experiences since joining Informa just weeks before the UK went into lockdown.
Hi Kate, thanks for taking the time for a chat! Could you start by giving us some insight into your background?
Hi James! Yes, absolutely and thanks for inviting me to this virtual coffee - I have spent the majority of my career in tech and specifically fintech communications. I started out agency-side where I was lucky enough to work with some really big-name brands such as Microsoft, Dell, and Intel, as well as smaller start-ups and niche providers.
In 2010 I made the move in-house, first to client Information Mosaic and then to another ex-client, Thomson Reuters, where I latterly became Global Head of Communications for the company’s Financial and Risk Division. I was part of the Senior Team that carved out and launched the ‘$6billion start-up’ Refinitiv.
How are you settling into your new opportunity at Informa Tech?
Incredibly well! Informa Tech has a very welcoming and inclusive culture – now five months into my tenure but with only six weeks spent in an actual office setting, I still feel very much a part of the Informa Tech family. Alongside the opportunity to build brand and brand-loyalty for a nascent company, the open and low-ego culture of Informa Tech was one of the big draws for me when accepting the role.
What have been the biggest challenges over the past few months and what impact has this had on your role?
The obvious challenge has been adapting to an environment where everyone is working from home and making sure that our leadership remains visible and clear. From that perspective my focus has definitely pivoted more strongly to our internal audiences as I get to know the organisation.
These unprecedent times have provided powerful opportunities to start important conversations with colleagues.
Although lockdown has been an unsettling and distressing time for people around the world, it has also been a huge opportunity for communicators to bring people together and create cohesion through shared experiences.
Both Covid-19 and the awful killing of George Floyd have been powerful opportunities for us to start important conversations with colleagues - about wellbeing, about diversity and representation, about unconscious bias – and hopefully bring about lasting change. These are moments when great leaders stand up and be counted. And by leaning into the more pastoral aspects of their roles, lasting connections are made.
What advice do you have for others who are settling into new roles in the current climate?
Stay connected! Take advantage of the fact that everyone is at home to spend both formal and informal time with new colleagues. Lockdown has been a bonding experience for many of us as we share the same challenges. I have loved the insight you get into people from seeing them in their homes, in their home clothes, sometimes with their children. I have also enjoyed how easy it is to include colleagues who have always worked remotely or in different geographies – lockdown has been a great leveller in that way. Regular coffee time with your teams and people in your network create those opportunities for connection which are so important when you’re starting out in a new role.
Having a purpose-driven company vision and culture is now the only way.
What do you think are the biggest trends in communications today?
I think purpose-driven vision and culture is now the only way. When we were launching Refinitiv in 2018 it still felt quite novel that we were stating our aims in the context of a wider social good, but now I’m already at a point where it feels odd that a company would not have a purpose that benefits wider society in some way.
One of the things I loved about Informa Tech is that they want to ‘inspire the tech community to build a better world’. It is such a powerful way of winning both hearts and minds, of bringing employees and customers closer to your brand and feeling part of something bigger. Given the challenges we all face in the future, corporates reassessing their role in driving positive change more broadly is also simply the right thing to do.
The key to success during lockdown has been to overcommunicate
How do you think communications will be perceived in a post Covid-19 world?
It should be perceived as essential. The key to success during lockdown has been to over-communicate – whether it has been government to people, company to customer, CEO to investor, leader to team, colleague to colleague. I think we will look back and recognize the key role that communications teams have played in keeping the show on the road during this difficult time. And given the challenges we face in the future communications should continue to have a well-deserved place at the leadership table.
A bit about James…
James has been recruiting for over 7 years within the Digital, Marketing and Communications space. He has established himself as a specialist, working with the brightest, most creative and sought-after talent across various industries, partnering with clients on exclusive and multiple hire projects. Working across a range of sectors, he has helped large corporates and small start-ups to find the best talent in market, from Executive to Leadership level.
Away from work you will find James at his local pub quiz, on the golf course or cheering on his race dogs!