For 14 years Katie Scotland has worked at one of the world’s most exciting creative agencies. After a career filled with bold moves, today’s really tops them all. Today she launches Future Me, a talent, coaching and consulting business that will achieve the work life balance she has strived for and a future that is filled with endless possibility.
“Most of my career has been spent at iris, one of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and fast growing agency networks around. I worked up through the ranks and the biggest shift really was after working in a client facing role.
I took maternity leave and had two children and coming back after that I was really keen to find something that would give me a bit more balance. After some consideration I realised that my biggest passion at iris was really for iris as a business itself. I was able to take on a bigger internal role as Head of People which involved me looking at how the business really works and then developing strategies to help those working there to get the most out of their careers.
My main drivers were doing something that I really loved – and to do that with some balance around my young family. My time and understanding of that place really gave me the confidence and skills that I needed.
Anything is possible if you give it a go. But not everything is easy. I count myself lucky to have been part of a business that has been growing fast and always encouraging people to try new things. It has meant that I have always thrown myself into each opportunity and worked out how I can get the most out of that each time.
A mother returning to work is not the easiest thing. In a fast paced environment it requires commitment and flexibility on both sides. For the individual there is always going to be a juggling act of balancing a busy job in a set amount of days and that may sometimes mean for the individual that they have to work slightly different hours, evenings included. It requires flexibility from the organisation too. I always felt that if a business was able to give me flexibility of when and where I worked, then I was prepared to do that in return. But it definitely isn’t easy. It requires the right role, with the right team around you to make a success of it. If you don’t have that structure, then its always going to be more challenging and people do find it difficult.
My confidence comes from my experience and when I feel that I have value to offer. If I find myself in a situation where I find myself ‘blagging’, then I don’t feel my most confident boldest self. I would usually try to be honest in that situation about what my strengths are and what I can add. If it doesn’t fit me then I draw on the strengths of my team and find someone that does fit that particular challenge. That’s a strength of leadership.
What I love doing is achieving things that didn’t really seem possible. We had an idea at iris that we would create a whole new philosophy about how people could look at their careers in a much more empowering way. Then we built a digital structure around that – we called it Myris. iris is a thousand people over fourteen different countries. Its a really big organisation, so the idea of creating a shift in such a busy business felt daunting – and a bit of a crazy one!
It involved working with a core team and getting many stakeholders involved until we had something that would work, which we then rolled out across different countries and hundreds of people. To look back on that now – to see that shift has happened on something that didn’t really feel achievable at the time, made me feel proud of everyone – but also of myself!
You can only work effectively when you have faith and understanding in yourself and those around you. When you have that energy right and everyone is working together, supporting and energising, and working towards a clear vision – well, anything is possible! A group of motivated and connected people can achieve anything.
The Spice taster that I attended was brilliant – to witness a group of energised and empowered women in a room together, it was amazing.”
The Coaching Skills for Leaders Workshop that was run by Shine within iris was also fantastic. As an organisation iris are always so busy that they rarely take the time out for themselves. So we did a two day workshop, bringing 25 people together for two days with Anna and MJ. The energy that they brought to that group of people was amazing. Watching everyone reflect on what their own drivers were and then how to use those with other people was actually quite a moving experience. That sort of thing really has an ongoing effect – in fact I would say it is a game changer. I would put that down to the energy and inspiration that Anna and MJ both bring, creating a space for reflection, redirection, a bit of self-awareness. It was very powerful.
My biggest influence in my career really has been iris over anyone or anything. They are a bright, exciting bunch of people that are energetic, not afraid to give something a go, they have a lot of with a ‘who says we can’t?!’ mentality! Seeing something as a business grow from 30 to 1000 people is phenomenal and is literally just down to people saying ‘yes we CAN do that!’.
My boldest move so far though has got to be leaving iris and making the decision to set up my own business. Having had a really enjoyable and challenging career in one organisation and then taking the decision to leave – well, that is a huge leap of faith. I never thought that I would be running my own business. But I feel like I have reached a stage in my life where I have got the right experiences and set of skills that I can put to use in my own way now; whether that is my understanding of people, how an organisation works on the inside, how to work with clients, or how to build and brand and market.
I am setting up my own talent, coaching and consulting business – Future Me. I will be working with businesses to find ways of inspiring and unlocking the potential of the people within their organisations to work towards brilliant leadership, and helping people plan their own futures and career paths at both a team level and an individual level.
About 18 months ago I also made the decision to move out of London to the South West and I guess that was one of the first steps I made to achieving the balance I wanted for my family. It is something that we always dreamt of doing.
I don’t feel like it is a big and scary move. I am someone that generally likes to plan things, but actually on the big things you just need to start taking steps in the right direction and it then gathers momentum and happens. I never felt like it was a giant moment of change – it felt quite natural. Its easy to overthink change. I’m excited about where this is going to take me.”
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