Kate Vandenberg is Head of Women in Leadership at Sky.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
In my current role, I’m responsible for driving Sky’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda, with a specific focus on promoting a gender balanced senior leadership team. However, for me, it’s not simply about increasing the number of female leaders at Sky – it’s about developing women of all levels to achieve all that they want to achieve and working closely with our Women in Technology and Women in Home Service programmes to address historically male-dominated STEM areas.
I’ve been at Sky for seven years now, previously working in a variety of different Strategy and Planning roles for the UK/ROI business. Before that, I worked in Financial Services in the City for a number of years. When I look back now, I am pleased I made the decision to move out of financial services and the City to Sky. Diversity is at the heart of our values here at Sky, and it’s so refreshing to work for a business that not only encourages employees to be themselves, but also works hard to recruit a workforce that is reflective of its diverse customer base.
A bit about me personally: I love diving, sailing and am a keen pianist. My annual trip to my home country of New Zealand is a highlight of my year – I love catching up with family and friends over a glass (or two!) of NZ Sauvignon Blanc.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I don’t think so… which is quite surprising as I am a planner! When I worked in the Financial Services world pre-Sky, I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now – and I have to say it’s been my most rewarding role yet.
But that’s the beauty of working at Sky – there are unexpected and exciting twists and turns around every corner! I think you need to be OK with that to succeed here.
Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
I think the biggest challenge for me coming into this particular role is keeping momentum. We made some great progress since the launch of the Women in Leadership programme nearly three years ago – for example we increased the number of women in our leadership layer from 30 per cent to nearly 40 per cent. That’s an increase of nearly one third!
However, we need to keep our foot on the gas and constantly introduce new initiatives to continue to build our pipeline of talent at every level. We’ve publicly committed to achieving a 50/50 gender balanced workforce by 2020 – and it’s my job to make sure we do that.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Universal flexibility. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to work when we want, how we want and from where we want. I always say to my team – as long as you get your work done, I don’t care! They know they are judged on productivity, not presenteeism.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I’m both! I have board level sponsors and gain so much from those relationships. I also act as a mentor to several women across the business, which I find extremely rewarding and eye-opening. I think it’s essential for any good manager to be a mentor.
When mentoring others, it’s so important to remember who has helped you along the way to where you are now. How did they help you – and how can you help others in return? Supporting others on their own journeys – personal and professional – feels great.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I’d probably say being put forward for this role – it’s an absolute privilege. Also, working tirelessly to get new initiatives off the ground, including our new Women into Leadership programme – a training and development programme designed to help our female talent pipeline develop the skills needed to become an effective leader at Sky. The course runs for 24 months, resulting in a formal degree-level equivalent leadership qualification.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
We are currently in planning stages of launching a returner programme, which I’m hoping will provide several women with the opportunity to re-enter the workforce with confidence – watch this space.