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Leadership Spotlight: Kathryn Shade

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Our latest Leadership Spotlight features Kathryn Shade!

Kathryn has spent the last 20 years launching and scaling Ecommerce for some of the best-known brands in Beauty and Skincare. These brands include The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and De Beers Diamond Jewellers. Kathryn now works as an Ecommerce growth consultant focusing on the Health, Beauty and wellness space with a particular passion for B Corp and sustainable brands.

In our Q&A with Kathryn, she discusses her career to date working for large corporations, the need to challenge herself with a ‘greater variety of projects, her love for the ‘ever-evolving’ digital industry, the positive lesson she’s taken from hybrid working, why AI will play a key role in improving lives and her passion for cooking!

Read our Q&A in full below.

Why did you join the Digital Leaders Club?

I’ve known Jack for a while but he’s only just let me know about this group! Since joining I’ve enjoyed the liveliness and active, useful discussion on the WhatsApp group it’s been really collaborative and refreshing.

What's your career journey been like to date?

I’ve taken a linear approach until very recently. After having worked for large corporates such as Esteè Lauder, De Beers Diamond Jewellers (LVMH), and Johnson & Johnson I decided to try a different approach to work, hence choosing to work independently as a Digital and Ecommerce Consultant.

My aim is to have a greater variety of projects in order to keep challenging myself. Really driven by the idea that fractional, portfolio work is the future and the best way to keep my thinking fresh. I will explore interim and contract roles alongside my freelance consultancy. I hope that this next phase of my career is a really challenging, varied, and dynamic time.

What do you love about working in digital?

I love that it is ever-evolving, the space looks so different than it did 5 years ago and that makes me excited for what’s around the corner.

Have you had any challenges in your career to date; and how did you overcome them?

Most challenges at work come down to effective communication (or lack of!) So that’s usually my starting point if issues arise.

Tell us about your best success story

There have been many career highs where you get the promotion, hit the target or launch the product, but successes are really much more human than that. I have had team members who may have been struggling in some way go on to make bold and brave decisions and I know I’ve played a part in enabling it in some way – I feel that’s a really good marker of success.

What’s it been like transitioning to a hybrid setup over the past three years?

Covid taught us a lot, we all missed the human connections, after-work drinks and office fun. However, it was a radical way to prove that working from home works. I’ve always been a believer in giving my direct reports the flexibility to work how and when they need to, in my experience, you get more out of people this way rather than micromanaging.

Hybrid, however, can be the worst of both worlds though, office tech failing and home workers patiently waiting on zoom with better broadband than the office. WILD!

The ideal scenario is to have specific days to work or meet together so that the time spent together is purposeful and valuable.

What's the coolest/most interesting trend you're excited about?

I can’t not talk about AI here as it's of seismic magnitude, however, a specific part that I find most interesting is how that works with wearable tech & health monitoring apps and how this can drive a better understanding of health conditions and deliver positive health outcomes on a large scale. There is much speculation on the negative impacts of AI but there are many ways in which it can really improve lives.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Easy going and loves a chat! I am a big fan of letting the conversation go wherever it goes, you can learn so much this way. Agendas are good, but If you stick too rigidly to them, you miss out on a lot of creative potential.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Do parents get to have hobbies? Or do we just facilitate our children’s hobbies?

I try to go to a yoga class at least twice a week and recently trained to teach kids yoga and mindfulness. I also love cooking for friends and family.

What's your plan for the future?

I am really keen to lean into the idea of fractional working, I am ready for a career 2.0 outside of corporate and look forward to having multiple cool and interesting brands and people to work with.

What would you be doing (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?

I am always super attracted to the random jobs that come up on remote Scottish islands looking after puffin colonies or similar. I have no experience in this area and am sure the winters would be harsh and lonely. So perhaps I’ll just stick to what I know.

Connect with Kathryn on LinkedIn

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