The achievements and self-evident team spirit of the GB Women’s hockey team in Rio captured the hearts and minds of the nation. In the modern era of professional sport it stood apart as an example of the amazing results that a group of individuals can achieve when single minded in their pursuit of a goal and united by a common ambition, culture, values and behaviours.
As captain of the England and GB women’s hockey teams for 13 years and an international player for 17 Kate was an integral part of the squad, unanimously voted in her by her teammates for her ability to lead by example, nurture talent and bring the best out of people. Her career started in 1999 and she reached the pinnacle of the game, amassing 3 Commonwealth Games medals as well as bronze at London 2012 and of course Olympic gold in Rio. Glory however did not always come easily – in London 2012 Kate’s jaw was broken in the first match, but her determination was on display as she returned after only 2 games to play with a plate in her jaw and a facial mask. In 2014 the team hit a new low with a 10th place finish at the Hockey World Cup when they had arrived as favourites. The setback started an intense period of introspection within the GB camp, during which their structure, team work and culture was laid bare and rebuilt from the bottom up. The result was a new vision ‘Be the difference, create history, inspire the future’, and a culture and set of behaviours that each player looked to their team mates to live and breathe every day.
Such experiences form the bedrock of Kate’s speaking, as she shares her personal experiences of leadership, team building, goal setting and high performance. Away from the field she also reflects on the importance of inclusive diversity. Having married her team mate Helen in 2013, Kate describes hockey as her ‘safe space’, a family which accepted her for who she was and whose only expectation was that she gave her best every day. More widely she speaks about the make-up of the hockey squads she played in – a collection of diverse individuals and personalities, who sometimes clashed, but who all brought different things to the table and were respected for their individual strengths and personalities.
As a female leader who reached the pinnacle of her career she also speaks passionately about equality of opportunity for women and the need for flexibility in what a leader should look and sound like. Her own early attempts at leadership she readily admits were underwhelming, until she realised that she needed to find her own style, which was not necessarily a kind that she had seen before. In her words ‘You need to see it to be it’. In other words, the more diversity we see in leadership, the more women will have the confidence to think it is something that they can do even if they don’t fit a stereotypical mould.
With thought provoking content combined with a natural sense of humour and down to earth persona, Kate receives glowing feedback and has quickly established herself as one of the most in demand speakers around.
Kate is an experienced motivational speaker and happy to host or deliver Q&As, keynotes and after dinners. She has a powerful leadership and team building story to tell and can speak on the following themes:
- Leadership and communication: building a winning mind-set, finding your leadership style and bringing out the best in people
- Team building: creating unity of standards, spirit, culture and behaviours
- Maintaining peak performance
- Ambition and goal setting: effective planning, organisation and evaluation
- Change management: How to turn performance around
- High performance under pressure: performing at an elite level for 17 years
- Diversity and Inclusion – female leadership, LGBT+ and inclusive opportunity
- Grass roots sport and inspiring a new generation
Kate spoke at the Financial Times Women at the Top Summit, having just returned from Rio where she led the GB women’s hockey team to Olympic victory. She gave a fascinating, insightful interview on leadership, team dynamics and the culture of a winning team, all in a way that was relevant to our senior corporate audience and which perfectly strengthened the core theme of our event: how to achieve gender balance and redefine leadership. It was an honour to have Kate join us and the audience loved it. I would fully recommend her as a speaker
FT Women at the Top Summit
I just wanted to pass on my huge thanks to Kate for last night’s event. She was wonderful. She is such an inspiring speaker and was an absolute delight to have as a guest. We have been inundated with compliments for her and it seems she really struck the right note with audience in everything she said about team ambition and leadership. Please let her know how grateful we are.
Mishcon de Reya, Entrepreneurs Forum
Kate was superb in every aspect. So gracious, kind with her time and so nice to everyone. Her talk was indeed inspirational and resonated with all that were lucky to hear it. There were many key take-aways and I am sure , upon reflection that there may be more! I loved seeing her emotion and passion that still fires Kate and I am sure that whatever she does, she will be a resounding success.
Securis Investments, Team Away Day
The evening was a huge success and as expected, Kate was truly inspirational and such a lovely person to have around. She had time for every student and the evening has been reported as the best one in fifteen years.