Q&A with Kate Hughes
1. What motivates you?
I love coaching people. When you see someone have a breakthrough moment and knock down their blockers to achieve their goals, you can’t put a price on that. Also working with leaders who genuinely want to improve the culture in their workplaces. I love the Richard Branson quote ‘employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.’ This is so true, and I love being able to be part of a team who gets to work with clients who really want to live by that motto for their employees. That’s when your employees go the extra mile for you.
2. How do you handle pressure?
It depends. If it’s because I’ve taken too much on and need to focus hard to meet 1000 deadlines, I’ll take myself away and work silently and systematically through things at home to get back in control. If it’s pressure because I’m working on one client project and we’re designing a great piece of work to help them and I get a little overwhelmed by the volume of content, I’ll take a five-minute walk for a change of scenery and maybe call a friend.
3. What will change most about the world of work in the next few years?
It goes without saying that teams will be even more virtual and digital than they are already. But I think that more employers will realise that culture is everything. That if they work to get their culture right, and their senior leaders are bought into it and more importantly, role-modelling it, it will improve their business ten-fold plus.
4. What’s your defining career moment so far?
The realisation that unforeseen changes in circumstance are usually massive blessings in disguise. I took voluntary redundancy from a previous role where I hadn’t been very happy. It enabled me to take time to reflect on what I truly wanted to do. During that time, I completed a diploma in life coaching and passed with distinction. I loved it that much that I enrolled on a further diploma on transformational coaching that I’m nearing completion on now. So, what started out as a time of worry, led me to picking up what I really love doing, and not what I thought I ‘ought’ to do.
5. What book, film or tv show has really changed the way you thought about something?
I love The Work of Byron Katie, and also Brené Brown’s work. Both extremely powerful in different ways. Byron Katie focuses very much on the power of your thoughts, and Brené Brown really digs into your courage to embrace vulnerability and imperfection
6. What makes you proud?
I have a 7-year-old daughter and she is such a curious, kind-hearted and incredibly feisty little being. She challenges me on every level and makes me proud every day (except when she refuses to go to bed or is in the mood to answer me back on everything. Even then I ‘try’ to see the positive – I have to dig deep for that though…).
7. What makes you angry?
Anger is quite a strong emotion and I try and ground myself before I blow my fuse; so it doesn’t happen often. A few things irritate me though: rudeness – there is simply no need for rudeness and bad manners, ignorance – there is research available at people’s fingertips, and prejudice – we all have a story, what gives us the right to judge others?
8. Which leader do you most admire most and why?
I admire Maya Angelou. I probably can’t class her as a leader? Can I? Anyway, I admire her for all she overcame to be the person she was. Inspirational.
9. What are your best and worst characteristics?
My best is probably that I’m generous to a fault (so I guess could also be my worst?!). Although, my worst is that I can be a little sulky sometimes.
10. What would you like to learn and why?
I play piano and guitar. Music has been a part of my life growing up. Since adulthood though I don’t play half as much as I’d like to. So, I’d like to get back to playing like I used to be able to. The only way I can do this is to re-learn a lot of the things I’ve forgotten and practice a lot.
11. If you could choose anybody, who would you be for a day?
This may be quite controversial, but I think I’d really like to be Donald Trump – for the simple reason I’d like to know what exactly goes on in his head to come out with some of the awful things he does and to try and make some changes in there for the better.
12. Who would you like to invite for a dinner party, living or dead?
Freddie Mercury because we’d have a blast singing and dancing. I’d even get the brooms and feather dusters out. Also, Lady Gaga – I think we’d have a lot to talk about, and my besties, Hannah, Beka, Claire and Katey. Those ladies know how to party.
13. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My old manager Jayne once said to me, “stop trying to be anyone other than you. Yes, it’s important to read the room and flex your behaviour accordingly, but don’t try and be anything you are not. Be authentically you.”
14. What would your motto be (if you haven’t already got one)?
When I was having a tough time once my stepdad sent me an email and wrote, “as the RAF would say ‘Per Ardua ad Astra’” which means ‘through adversity to the stars’. I realise it’s the motto of the RAF and other Commonwealth air forces, but it meant a lot and I love it. So, I borrow it.
15. What personal value would you never compromise?
There’s two. Honesty and courage. I may not always do the ‘done’ thing, but I will always be honest about what I do or what I believe, and that takes courage.