Category: Gender Balance, Which?, Female Leaders, Training & Development, Life at Which?, Training & Development at Which?
We spoke to Kat Chinnock, Head of Brand and Strategic Communications about career progression, inspiring a team and life at Which?
Kat Chinnock, Head of Brand and Strategic Communications at Which?
My name is Kat Chinnock and I work at Which? as the Head of Brand and Strategic
Communications. I started working in a call centre in insurance after university and moved into marketing after a colleague noticed my potential.
Following additional roles with other insurance brands, gaining experience in a range of brand marketing duties, I went into banking. There, I was able to enhance my skillset, working on campaigns such as Lloyds TSB’s For the Journey campaign. I later worked for Metro Bank in its early stages, focusing on operating models and processes, and at Hiscox, I shaped my skills further on brand strategy.
Which? was the perfect move for me, and allowed me to take up a role where I can positively impact people’s lives. I love the fact that Which? is not for profit and all about improving consumers’ lives. That sits really nicely with me. Which? is a smart, dynamic, friendly organisation where I feel as if I'm doing something meaningful, but also doing a job that I love.
Getting involved in training and development
A previous manager opened my eyes to the importance of structured development plans. It's something that many people put to the bottom of their to do list, but I think it gives you a greater sense of achievement within any role, and it's something my team will tell you I'm a complete evangelist about! I have a simple approach. It's all about deciding on your focus; what you want to do in the short, medium or long term, and the three priority development areas to get you there.
It's a case of being honest with yourself and thinking about the areas that you'd focus on, and then having four to five actions against each of these - with timescales.
Staying focused on the present
I've never been one to chase the next promotion, and I tell my team to focus on the present, and on being your best self. It's helped me decide what I want to do; exploring possibilities to give me broader knowledge and more experience to draw from.
Personally, I reached a crossroads about five to six years ago. I thought I wanted to be a marketing director, so I explored the gaps in my development plan that I needed to crack to achieve that career focus. I realised there were lots of things I could do yet didn't enjoy that much. This led me to realising the areas that I loved - brand, strategy, leadership - and adapting my future career focus to a more specialist brand role that has made me a lot happier.
A development plan can focus on moving you forward, but it's also a great way to understand yourself better. One mentor nailed it, when he said to me 'you need to make sure there's enough jam in your doughnut’. What he meant was, make sure your job has enough of the kind of tasks that you really enjoy!
A supportive community
A good development plan helps you get more out of your job and can make it more rewarding. Of course, it can also influence your pay or performance related awards too.
It will also help you find your experience strengths and gaps – it’s important to be self-aware so you can be honest about the areas you need to focus on. In my role, I try to find projects that enable people's development and work with them to ensure they get the most from them.
Which? is a really supportive community and offers great training support. They provide access to a lot of resources that people wouldn’t automatically think of when they're creating development plans. For example, we consider the different external and internal resources; we reach out to people who may be able to support with a development area or act as a great mentor, coach or buddy. People are generally quite touched when asked to take on this role.
In an organisation like Which? there's such a vast array of experts in so many different areas - we do a lot more than just review washing machines! It is full of smart, friendly and approachable people who are willing to support each other. We have policy experts, lawyers, content experts, and an in-house design studio. So there's a lot of opportunity to explore different career paths and skillsets.
Inspiring a team
Investing and motivating a team not only feels great, as I am able to share my experience and passion with them. It also leads to a happy and high functioning team, which enables me to focus on the areas I need to focus on, and I can trust that my team has everything brilliantly covered.
The process is a lot of hard work now, but I know it's going to be worth the time and effort in the end!
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