In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting women in leadership at Fluent who inspire us to learn, innovate, and connect every day.
Meet Katherine Rae, Head of People at Fluent
Katherine moved to the U.S. about 6 years ago from the U.K. As a kid she dreamed of living in the U.S. and is grateful to be part of the incredible energy NYC has to offer. Katherine is all about personal growth and strives to always be learning and optimizing. When not in crunch time at work, she’ll be brunching, hosting an afternoon tea with friends, exploring the city, or taking trips to each state – #50Before50 is her game.
Katherine’s passion in life is unleashing the potential of others, and she gets to do that by leading the People function at Fluent. She has been working in HR her entire career and believes that everyone should seek their passion and look to find joy in what they do.
Learn more about Katherine’s journey to learn, grow, and lift those up around her.
1. What do you think are the key attributes that make a successful leader?
I’d say a foundational triad of integrity, passion and trust:
- Integrity – I’m often heard saying “It’s not what you preach it’s what you tolerate.” Your actions must align with your words. It’s management 101 – if you’re saying different things to different people, or one thing behind closed doors that you would never say at a large company meeting, that does not work. You’d spend your time and energy trying not to be ‘found out’. Just be honest and straight from the start and if you don’t know – own that. When everyone knows where they stand and what you stand for you can focus on the actions and produce great results.
- Passion – When everyone is touched, moved, and inspired by a vision, then you can turn ideas into inspiring calls to action that shift the behaviors of others. Creating new possibilities takes a passion that is bold and brave; it also provides a different focus and level of energy that causes breakthrough results.
- Trust – This is all about relationships. Are you connecting with those around you and building trust in those relationships as well as your relationship with yourself? Every action you take has the ability to strengthen or break trust. Keep taking actions that build it.
2. Is there any advice you would give to your younger self, knowing what you know now?
From a strategic perspective: Have more faith – don’t waste your time and energy on fearing what might go wrong or feeling like an imposter about to be found out. Everyone is learning, and each day is a new opportunity to shine. I am pleased that I always took the opportunities that were given, and when none were there, I spoke up to share my passions and offer a helping hand. For example, as a relatively junior HR profession in a large public company, I took the opportunity to join the CEO at breakfast during an off-site work conference. We started to discuss the next steps for the company and touched on areas for improvement. The U.S. was brought up and I shared my passion and desire to move to the U.S., as well as my commitment to the company and the skills I thought I could provide to that situation. It didn’t happen overnight, but two years later I was on a plane to head up the HR function in NYC.
From a tactical perspective: I’d say seek to understand more. Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions and always debrief your work. Whether something was a success or missed the mark, ask what happened, why did it happen, and what can be done better next time. Be open to listening to all points of view and feedback. Document the journey, processes, and learnings and finally share that with everyone around you. You will not only support your own learning but also help your peers to grow.
3. Who has been the biggest influence in your career and why?
Without question Don Patrick, COO at Fluent. While there are a number of incredible leaders in my early career who inspired me in the profession and supported my learning, my biggest professional transformation (to date) occurred during my first year at Fluent. Don is driven by growth and leads by coaching those around him. I’ve been fortunate enough to be mentored and lead by him this past year.
Don emulates the leadership qualities that many try to achieve; he’s honest, direct, respectful, and a generous listener. He’s connected and genuinely cares about the people around him and demonstrates unwavering faith in them. Plus, he’s always got a huge smile and something to say that will make you laugh. Our conversations will often end with “You don’t need my help, you’ve got this, I know you’ll do the right thing”. Where can you go from there but take action to be the best version of yourself and do what’s right?
I think the key thing Don has provided is allowing me the space to step into my role as leader of the people and culture at Fluent. I’ve been able to define what I stand for and his coaching has supported me in communicating that across the company. Talk about unleashing the potential of others – his own leadership and guidance have demonstrated the person I want to be.