WeAreFutureLeaders Speaker Spotlight: Kate Franklin

Kate Franklin

WeAreTheCity speaks to Kate Franklin CPCC, PCC, Director of White & Lime, about her career.

Kate is also one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming WeAreFutureLeaders conference on 24 May.

Kate Franklin is a passionate and straight-talking speaker. Kate adapts her material and approach to ensure she has a provocative and validating impact on every audience – from stressed executives at leadership conferences to primary school children. Kate is a successful entrepreneur and people development expert with over twenty years of global business experience, a fantastic knowledge base from which to share insights into leadership, change and resilience.

Kate is co-founder and Director of White & Lime, a people development consultancy specialising in peak performance for individuals and teams. She has been running her own business since 2005, in Washington DC and London. Before that she was head of leadership development for RSA Insurance, having held a range of leadership and strategic HR roles for RSA across UK and Europe over eight years.

Kate has worked on UK and global assignments for a broad range of clients including The Allied Irish Bank, Aviva, RSA Insurance, Thomson Reuters, Freshfields, Clifford Chance, Unilever and Save the Children. She’s a certified professional coach, accredited by the International Coaching Federation since 2005, and CIPD qualified since 2006.  Kate has been a systems coach and conflict expert since 2012, having completed extensive training and mentoring in the Organisations, Relationships and Systems Coaching (ORSC) methodology with the Center for Right Relationship.

At the conference, Kate will explain resilience in an ever changing world, including strategies to cope with the unexpected, how to plan and deal with change and how to channel your inner strengths to cope with challenges. Discover the full agenda for the day here.

WeAreFutureLeaders, now in its third year, is a conference aimed at women (below Director level) who wish to progress in their career or who are preparing for promotion. This is not a conference that labours about the lack of women in leadership positions, this full day learning event where our guests will gain real tangible skills that they can take back in to the workplace the following day.

You can find out more about the conference and book your place here.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I’ve always been passionate about social justice and changing things.  But by the time I completed my degree in politics, I knew that Westminster wasn’t for me. I’m too thin-skinned to be in the public eye and wasn’t up for being patronised by the posh boys.  I initially worked for a diversity training company which was foundational for my understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion. Then I moved into corporate life and did nearly ten years in financial services, mainly in strategic HR and change leadership. I got a huge amount of satisfaction from having a positive impact on the way people are employed.  When I was 31 I set up my own leadership development business, shifting my focus slightly to developing individuals. That was almost 15 years ago and I haven’t looked back.  Now I see change happen through ‘tooling up’ great people with the confidence and the clarity they need to challenge the status quo, speak truth to power, and do the right thing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’m a planner and I (mistakenly) believed that I had to do it all before starting a family, so yes I was pretty thoughtful about my direction. I never stopped asking people for career advice – I’ve always had at least two mentors.

What inspired you to get involved in motivational speaking?

I’ve always loved sharing what I’ve learned, especially the mistakes!  Helping others (especially younger women) avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve experienced is incredibly rewarding to me.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

Every moment that I get to witness a coaching client become more confident and focused is a total joy.

What do you think WeAreFutureLeaders guests will gain from your talk?

I aim to provoke thinking on how we can all increase focus and productivity, and reduce the risk of burnout.  However good you are at taking care of yourself and your energy levels, there’s always room for improvement!

What are your top three tips for success?

  1. Choose your boss carefully. Work for people who know how to value and appreciate you.  Having a great relationship with your boss is foundational.
  2. Push for clarity about what’s expected of you, and what outstanding performance will look like in your role. If necessary, create your own clarity by defining it for yourself and then checking ‘this is my understanding, is that right?’ That includes defining core priorities and things to sacrifice this year, if necessary, in order to get the important stuff done.  Keep communicating what you are working on and what you’re not getting to.
  3. Ask for feedback from the people you respect, and let them know that you are acting on it.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Overcoming the default personality traits I have to please people, be helpful and responsive, and do everything quickly.  These are useful when you’re 21 but become de-railing to success very quickly.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

I look for inspiration in everyone I meet. I love listening to people in the public eye like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Brene Brown, Vanessa Vallely and Dr Tara Swart.  And equally, I love hearing the stories of everyday heroes who are plugging away behind the scenes to make things better; the teachers, the doctors, the aid workers, the leaders who invest in changing things outside of their job description.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

There are many obstacles, especially for women who face intersectional discrimination (e.g. because they are also ethnic minority or disabled or LGBT+). We have been brainwashed for centuries and we all fall into unhelpful unconscious stereotypes.  The obstacle I’m privileged to influence is female confidence. It’s only one part of the jigsaw, but I’m excited to work on ‘tooling up’ women and other marginalised groups with the confidence to challenge and make change happen.

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

Give every woman the ability to truly value herself and respond to sexism with power and clarity.

Find a way of equalising maternity and paternity leave so that parenting roles don’t automatically become gendered from the starting point.

Provide universal state childcare from the age of 12 months like many Scandinavian countries do. (It pays for itself in terms of the benefits to the economy)

Ensure that every parent returning from maternity or paternity leave has access to a first- rate coach.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

You are enough.


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