Kate Wood, Chess Telecom

We have recently had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful and inspiring Kate Wood, a new client of ours – we hope you enjoy reading her story as much as we did…


Kate Wood

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kate Wood, I am 40 years old, mum to Bebee and Rye my lovely adult children. I work at Chess Telecom. Chess have been established 23 years and provide Communications and ICT solutions to businesses. I started out in sales at Chess 5 years ago and am now on the Senior Management Team. I work in Alderley Edge, Scotland, London and Burney.

In my role as Head of Knowledge and Culture every day is different. The Knowledge part of my role means my team organise all training for 550 people, we run many programmes including products training, our Leadership Academy, an award winning Personal Performance Programme, Customer Passion training and the week long monthly induction for all new starters. I am so excited to be working with Women to Work to launch our new Empowering Women programme.

The Culture part means I make sure it’s a fair and fun place to work. At Chess we are a growing business and this means we do a lot of acquisitions, I make sure all new people are happy and help them settle in to the Chess family. Our vision is “Great Place to Work, Great place to be a Customer.” My team along with our 50 Cultural Architects make sure Chess is a Great Place to Work. We are very proud to have been named the UK’s 2nd Best Company To Work for in the Sunday Times annual listings.

What is it that you love most about your work?

I love my job simply because of all the people. At Chess we are passionate about being an opportunity provider, I love supporting other people in making the most of their opportunity and I love living mine. As a growing business we are continually changing, it’s fast paced and exciting. This means it can be really challenging, but it is never ever boring.

What strengths or personal attributes do you think have really helped you to get started?

Whatever the job I always throw myself fully into it, I liken it to the Hokey Cokey dance– in order to get your whole self out, you have to put your whole self in. This means I have always found fun and a sense of achievement, even in the most mundane of jobs. I used to time myself when I was a cleaner to see if I could hoover one room faster than the last! I continually push myself out of my comfort zone, hosting company conferences to over 500 people has definitely helped with this! Having a good sense of humour goes a long way, the minute you take yourself seriously nobody else ever will.

How have you managed set backs / challenges along the way?

Reading this back I sound like a proper business woman, nobody is more surprised than me. At 15 I was almost expelled from school, I ran away from home and lived at the airport for 3 days, at 16 I was thrown out of home, I never went back and became a teenage single mum, having 2 kids in 12 months. For years I struggled to make ends meet living on waitressing tips, 5 years ago I started on a path which means I’ve now got the job of my dreams..

Through the hardest of times I only managed to carry on by always focusing on the future, I set myself small goals to work towards and I was always thinking about what I could do, not ever focusing on what I couldn’t do. I am lucky enough to have a wide circle of long term friends and a close family, never underestimate this, surrounding yourself with the right people makes anything possible.

What is your formula / top tips for a successful work / life balance?

Loving what you do helps. Nobody ever asks men if they can “have it all” Stop feeling guilty and give yourself a break. I make sure the time I do spend with my family and friends is fun and relaxed. I really try and enjoy what time I do have, rather than dwelling on the time I don’t have.

My top 5 time tips would be:

  • Be organised, use Outlook to run your life so you will know what you have to do and when it needs to be done by. I set so many weekly reminders and it means I don’t waste time rushing to do things at the last minute.
  • Delegate at work, let your team know when you are busy and let them help, people love to step up, it also helps them develop.
  • Delegate at home, my kids have done their own washing, ironing, cleaning and a lot of cooking since being about 12. If you can afford it get a cleaner, you won’t ever look back.
  • Beware of time thieves – people who will waste your time both professionally and privately, we all know them!
  • Switch your phone off on holiday so you can truly relax and be present in the moment  – I am still working on this one!

What advice would you give a woman looking to set up a business or manage her career/working life?

Be yourself, don’t try to change, too many women think they have to act in a certain way, in a corporate way, to get on at work or even worse – they act like a man. You will get caught out. I have always worn second hand and unusual dresses, some people asked if I would change this when I got an SMT role. As if!

Ask for advice from people who have been successful, people you find interesting or people you admire. Listen to the stories of their journey.

Don’t be scared to admit you are scared or that you are struggling.

Finally I quote my CEO David Pollock from his Happiness Training “It’s not successful people that are happy, it’s happy people that are successful”