Join columnist Vicky Ellison every month as she meets with inspiring women from the worlds of wellness, business, fashion and art to bring you a snapshot of their story and advice to take into your day.
As we talked through Kate’s career path, I realised how rare it is to hear a successful woman speak proudly of her skills and achievements.
Kate Bosomworth has every right to be proud. As CMO of M&C Saatchi- one of the world’s most successful advertising agencies, Kate’s journey has seen her create, grow and sell her own successful PR agency, be invited onto the board of Sport England and launch one of the UK’s best known campaigns – ‘This Girl Can’, among numerous other achievements.
It struck me that Kate’s career has involved many of her own personal “this girl can moments”, each one spurring her on to the next move…
Starting her career in sales, she went from client to agency side early on and was asked by the experiential agency to move to London and set up a new office.
Despite a lack of experience, Kate said yes. “That was my first winging it moment. I came to London with this slight fake it till you make it approach. I found an office, hired a team, rented photocopiers and thought well, that wasn’t that hard was it?”
From there, Kate took an unexpected step into PR. Invited into the role by an agency she had hired, Kate’s initial skepticism subsided when she sold in her first piece of coverage to The Telegraph during a trial week. “That feeling of opening a newspaper and thinking I made that- it was the thrill of selling again. The thrill you get from speaking live on stage, it’s amazing. So, I literally jacked in my job at the [experiential] agency and went to work in PR.”
After two years with the PR agency, Kate felt she needed a change. Her attention was captured by a newspaper advert for the toughest yacht race in the world.
While many would shy away from such a challenge Kate faced it head on. “I kind of fancied myself as being tough, I used to sail as a kid so I [figured] how hard could it be. I applied and managed to ‘blag’ my way onto the race really late.”
“I learnt loads about myself on that race,” she reflects “I learnt my appetite for risk is quite high. I had a frightening moment on the boat [where I thought I might die] – so I came off the yacht thinking ok, well if I can do that I can do anything.”
Returning to London and noticing a gap in the market for a knowledgeable, dedicated sports PR agency at a time when mass participation events were taking off, Kate set up KTB. Before long, their client roster included GSK, Technogym, Adidas and the Flora running event portfolio.
Fast forward a few years and Kate had sold her agency twice with a sell-to-grow strategy, as well as having two children. Being invited onto the board of Sport England shortly before the second sale of her agency was, unbeknownst to Kate at the time, the next step in a new direction.
“I discovered that I had a real [passion] to work on Sports participation for women. I had worked in the women’s space for a long time through the agency but had not really gone beyond brand”.
Launching the globally recognised campaign This Girl Can’ was a pivotal moment. “The success of ‘This Girl Can’ in 2015 was probably, without me realising, the start of the “I can do something else and I’m really good at this” [feeling]. I’m really good at understanding behavior – it almost revealed some stuff about me that I didn’t know.”
Not long after that, Kate left her own agency, took a year out completing work with UEFA and Landrover, and then joined M&C Saatchi at the start of 2018.
“My career [has had] a number of zig zags” Kate muses. “That was interesting, now I’m going to try over here, that was interesting, now I’m going to go here. I am a very high energy person and I like working at a certain level of energy and intensity, so I suppose when I don’t have that anymore I really seek it somewhere else.”
“I have also learnt that it’s good for the soul to have a go at something else, and not be afraid of that skills transfer moment, because life’s really short, and in order to keep that level of energy and motivation you have to keep being hungry – it sounds a cliché but you know what I mean. I’ve never over-analysed it…it’s a gut feeling”
Touching on her drive, Kate shares how she inherited a need for self-sufficiency from her mum. “My mum was really brave. She was a single mum, bringing up 4 kids, during which time she went to Africa, she had balls the size of the Albert Hall, and I think if I could be half the woman she was then I’m doing her credit.”
Given the confidence and passion Kate exudes, I wondered whether she had ever felt uncertain? And somewhat surprisingly, she had. ‘When I had my first board meeting at Sport England I had the biggest dose of imposter syndrome known to man. I sat there [thinking] what am I doing [at] this table – there were athletes, the Chief Exec of Accenture and the RFU- really impressive people ,and me! I just ran a sports PR agency… but then I thought hang on a minute, we’ve all been through the same interview process, I’ve earned my position [at] this table in the same way that they have….The reason you’re somewhere is because people want you, you have to remind yourself of that. I think if it feels right then do it, and if it doesn’t then don’t –it sounds cliché but it’s just simple.”