A Week in My Life: Kate Harris, Regional Director at NABS
Kate Harris is Regional Director of NABS, a support organisation for the advertising and media sectors that provides a raft of services designed to improve the wellbeing of the industry.
Services include coaching, masterclasses, evening talks and an advice line. Kate is also Managing Director of Harris Talent, specialising in recruitment in the marketing and communications industry.
Here, she shares what her working week looks like...
I try to exercise every day and early Monday morning is a good place to start. I usually run or swim early in the morning to set me up for the week. Luckily I live in the Lancashire hills, so all I have to do is pull on my running shoes and open the front door – no excuses! I find exercise therapeutic, not just physically but mentally. NABS is all about promoting wellbeing, so I try to practice a bit of what we preach.
I wear two hats: one as regional director of NABS and the other as MD of my own headhunting business, Harris Talent and the two halves of my working life often blend together.
I spend the day catching up with candidates. You’ve got to enjoy a good chat to do what I do and I’m always happy to talk – and to listen. Listening’s so important when you want to help people. You want to understand what they want and why they want it.
I’ve been NABS’ regional director for 14 years – where has the time gone? I’m fortunate enough to have the fantastic Marian Arnold-Lawson working alongside me. Marian, like me, has two roles, as an account manager at NABS and owner of events company Business Introductions.
Marian helps me to organise our events, including our popular Manchester fashion show. Last year, Marian and I went into Challenge Anneka mode when the venue announced at short notice that they couldn’t host us because they’d been flooded! Cue mad scramble to find an alternative with just six weeks to go. The amazing people at the Midland Hotel stepped in to rescue us and we had a super event, raising £29,000 to fund NABS’ services.
Today, Marian and I have our weekly catch-up to plan for this week and beyond – who we’re meeting and what events we have coming up. We started planning this year’s Fashion Show as soon as last year’s ended. Here’s to a year with more funds and less floods!
Tonight sees the first NABS event of the week: an evening Talk with Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy, who gives a fascinating insight into “creativity, or the science of knowing what logic is wrong about” at BJL, a great venue. I chat to some new faces to discover how they’ve found out about NABS, and I explain how we can support them.
It’s an early start today. Not for a swimming or running session, but to catch the train to London. As regional director of NABS, I sit on our senior leadership team, helping to decide on the future of the organisation.
It’s an exciting time for us as we’re extending our work to support leaders across the industry - people have been telling us what a major role their managers play in their careers. That’s what I find when I’m headhunting. Candidates want empathetic leadership and better working cultures.
After work, I have dinner with a potential senior candidate. I place people in roles across the UK and internationally, and this candidate is considering leaving London to work in Manchester. I’m already planning to get them involved with NABS up north when they make the move.
The day starts with my favourite kind of phone call. The MD of one of Manchester’s biggest ad agencies is on the line, offering one of my candidates her dream role. My candidate will be absolutely delighted. I know that I am; I’m privileged to help talented people realise their ambitions.
I enjoy lunch with one of NABS’ supporters, Mark Harrison, an ex-colleague and old friend. Mark is MD of CheethamBell, the renowned creative, advertising and design agency. I’m hoping that Mark will agree to join NABS’ illustrious 100 Club. It’s a collection of the most senior leaders in the industry who generously lend their time to help mentor up-and-coming adlanders.
In the evening, we have a Manchester Committee meeting with our key supporters, hosted by our chairperson, the inspirational Nicola Marsh, MD of MediaCom North. Nicola generously gives her time, her office space and delicious food and drink to keep us all going as we discuss our plans for 2020.
NABS’ fantastic Manchester career coach is Jo Irvine. We meet to discuss how things are going; while Jo’s job is to support people across the industry, my job is to support her.
Jo tells me about a success she’s had with one client, who’s finally secured a promotion after a period of self-doubt. It’s wonderful to hear how our work is having an impact.
My Friday ends when I meet a prospective candidate for coffee. I’m blown away by their experience and promise to put together a target list of local agencies for them.
And finally, time to relax! I spend the evening back in the hills with my husband at our local village pub. No talk of work, just nonsense, which is just what I need at the end of the week.