Inspirational Woman: Kate Bohn | Group Transformation Innovation & Strategy, Lloyds Banking Group

Kate Bohn

A native protagonist, with 25 years’ experience spanning Academia, Arts and Financial Services, Kate is passionate about shaping and enabling value-driven disruptive change, and her current role within Group Transformation Innovation & Strategy at LBG epitomises these personal drivers.

During her time in Financial Services, Kate has also worked a global software house, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup: It was at Citi that she led the initial build out and subsequent success of the single dealer platform now known as CitiVelocity, as well as being a founder and board member of Trade Ideas Limited (TIL –  an award-winning, vendor neutral industry utility for electronic alpha capture.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I have spent the last 25 years spanning the Arts, Academia and Financial Services. As a child I moved around the globe with my siblings and parents on a regular basis and experienced a plethora of educational establishments as a direct result, and yet they were neither in the Military or Diplomatic service… As an identical twin who has worked to define my unique identity since birth, I am an ardent supporter for those wishing to bring their true selves to their working environment and am always conscious of ensuring all the voices in the room have an opportunity to be heard.

I have had the great fortune of strong female role models throughout my life, from my dynamic great grandmother as the matriarch of a 4-generation strong family, a grandmother who was a WREN in WWII and then head of Education for New South Wales and a single parent, as well as my own mother taking on the role of primary breadwinner and creating one of the largest Marketing Consultancy companies of her time, while also being a survivor of domestic violence. My mother will tell stories of how her (entirely male) colleagues didn’t know she even HAD three children and they openly challenged her competency on the basis of gender when starting out.

This inspires me to participate in the movement to lift women up at every opportunity: from hiring in support of 50/50 gender splits; to mentoring junior colleagues; to speaking at and creating events for school children around non-traditional career paths (STEM); to supporting and celebrating each new female CEO/CFO/COO that gets announced in corporate life; to speaking at events on the need for cultural change…

I also started an Instagram feed (kate_bohn) to reach those that don’t ‘get’ twitter or Linked In… To offer a visually based format to highlight where women are leading the charge in disruption – from directing films to gender pay gap discussions in the World Economic Forum. It is also a great way to promote female founders and women being awarded position on executive boards (NED or otherwise).

My current role as the Accelerator and Incubator Lead of Group Transformation in LBG enables me to bring people together around a collective purpose, support nascent talent, and be a part of the potential magic that can result. The broad ranging and boundless opportunities for discussion and creation to be had in this space are an enormous privilege to experience.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I originally thought I would be elbow deep in jewellery or retail packaging design at this point in my life, but I’ve already experienced two industries in which those two don’t feature at all!

I was certainly always encouraged to have a 5-10 year plan but this felt incredibly overwhelming and constraining in its need for certainty and ‘next steps’. Given some of the curve balls life has already thrown me, I have always railed against pinning my options down that hard – it’s feels like inviting failure while also limiting untapped potential. And so there has certainly a North Star (be creative, have fun, support access and understanding, ask the questions no one else wants to….) in my direction of travel, I have remained open to the path that may present itself out of the corner of my eye: it is often that which has given me the greatest joy in its unveiling of unexpected friendships and adventure.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I didn’t get into the design degree course I was intent on completing so opted for a BA at Camberwell School of Art instead in an effort to keep close to the creative element that I love. I then broke my back in my second year (note to self – always look both ways on a one way road!), so missed about 6-months while I recuperated. Afterwards I struggled to stand or sit for extended periods, which made the remainder of the course and subsequent role search a definite challenge!

After several years in the Arts, I realised that without the benefit of a Trust Fund, I needed to get a ‘proper’ job, and looked to my peers for inspiration. Moving industries in your late twenties is no easy task – you are either over or under qualified at every turn, but I managed to get a contract role at Citigroup and made sure to create opportunities and say ‘yes’ at each new challenge. This ultimately led to me leading their Equities web portal delivery for the EMEA region and the rest as they say is history…

My need for creativity and lack of traditional financial services background is probably why I enjoy the innovation space so much.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Can I have two?

My daughter – I was completely rubbish at both getting and staying pregnant, and I am enormously grateful for the gift that she is. If I can positively support her in becoming her most resilient, confident and curious self, I will die happy.

Being able to deliver real gender parity into LBG Commercial Bank Markets talent pipeline within an accelerated (12week) timeframe – it’s all about being focused on the goal and looking to demonstrate the value in doing things ‘another way’.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Authenticity without ego: there’s enough space in the room for us all.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I am a MASSIVE fan of both mentoring and sponsorship, enabling networks of people to share in problem solving across their collective skillsets and experiences, as well being able to connect individuals and open doors wherever possible to accelerate the delivery of our commercial and individual magic.

I have been on both sides of the mentoring relationship and would recommend everyone take advantage of the structure – people may only need support through specific challenges, or engage for longer periods. Make it work for you.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Change the culture of our country that embodies the female as Primary Carer of all things – home, children, parents, pets, plants….! Men are taught from a young age that they can achieve anything and the focus is on their skills; Women are taught that their value is still largely cosmetic, compliant & nurturing, and to focus on artificial limits. It is a silently understood dynamic that continues to this day, although usually women are now expected to work while ALSO picking up the lion’s share of the housework/nurturing duties on the home front too. It’s not so much a case of ‘having it all’ as ‘somethings got to give’….

I would like to mandate equal pay for equal work, and make it wholly comfortable for a man to duck out of a board meeting early to collect his children or be the equally likely point of contact, irrespective of the relationship dynamic at home.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Stay curious – you are a constant work in progress, and that’s OK.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Through the work I do engaging with start-ups and scales-ups against known and near/distant future commercial challenges for LBG, I am continuing to challenge the status quo: to ask people to see beyond the obvious or comfortable in how we support people in living their best lives.

Ultimately, I would like to see problem solving leverage the extensive diversity of THOUGHT that is available via our collective walks of life – from all levels of education, ability, gender, sexuality, religion, behaviour, thinking, industries, disciplines, etc – and for the power of a shared understanding and awareness to be standardly embraced as something that can deliver significantly more meaningful, inclusive and resilient outcomes

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