Our spotlight feature, Cake & Chat, welcomes our existing Cake & HR Member Katie Allen. Katie is a Specialist DEI Leadership coach, TEDx speaker, Workplace Culture Consultant and overall HR powerhouse. We really enjoyed getting to know Katie a little better over Cake…
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello! I’m Katie Allen and I’m the Founding Director of Katie Allen Consulting. I’m a specialist Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) consultant and coach, and my business supports small to medium sized companies who want to take their cultures of inclusion to the next level. I also work with teams and individuals who want to get to grips with the basics of DEI and become confident talking about some of the more challenging topics in this space. I’m also pretty well known for having 4 cats (2 of which are hairless), who regularly try to make cameo appearances in my online meetings!
Tell us about how you got into HR?
As with a lot of HR professionals, I never actually set out to get into this industry. As a natural entrepreneur, my background has been in commercial management and leadership, but I pivoted into HR due to my desire to want to be more focused on the people side of business leadership. This seemed to naturally lead me into becoming more of a specialist in DEI over the years, and in 2020 I set up my own company to focus exclusively on that.
What’s your career highlight?
Delivering my first TEDx talk in September 2022. This was such a huge moment for me as a developing public speaker, and definitely a ‘bucket list’ item. It was a real privilege to be able to craft my speech on my specialist topic of allyship, and deliver it on one of the most well-known stages in the world. It was so much fun I’m already writing my next one.
What are your top three tips for leading a HR team?
1. Listen more. It wasn’t until I qualified as a coach that I realised the true power of listening (and I mean the active kind, not just listening for my turn to speak next!). I now make so much more effort to listen more than I speak, and it helps me to better to connect with and understand my clients and team members.
2. Don’t feel like you have to know or do everything yourself. In the same way I listen better now, I also feel much less like I always need to have the answer or be able to do everything myself. Delegation and being vulnerable enough to share what I don’t know has been a superpower when it comes to creating the best solutions and getting things done. HR is hard enough without also trying to be all things to all people.
3. Trust yourself. You’re brilliant at what you do, even when you might not feel it, and even when things don’t go to plan. You are good enough.
What’s the best advice you can give for keeping on top of the ever changing world of HR?
Stay curious and be challenging. Be open to new ideas and perspectives and don’t be afraid to experiment. We can often get really bogged down in traditional approaches and so called “best practice” and forget to question if there’s a better or easier way. People are the heart of every business, and HR are the people people. We’re leaders too and we are just as innovative and creative as other functions, and arguably our work has potentially the biggest impact. We need to be asking the tough questions of our businesses just as much as our businesses asks them of us.
What do you do to keep your mental wellbeing in check?
As with many other people in HR, I’m not always the best at putting my own needs first. I’m hugely fortunate to be my own boss, so I do try to make sure I schedule in regular “consolidation time” for me gather my thoughts and offload tasks that don’t need to be done by me. I’m also very strict about not work during holidays (this means not checking emails too!). That time is for my family and myself, and I commit to being as present as possible.
How long have you been a member of Cake & HR?
I joined Cake & HR in early 2019 as I was looking to build my network locally with other HR professionals.
What do you find most valuable about being a member of Cake & HR?
The mix of people that you get to meet is invaluable! The wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience is truly brilliant, and you can always find someone who is either experiencing the same challenge or has already been through it and has wisdom to share. Plus we have a real laugh which makes it super welcoming, even when you’ve had a rubbish day or feel a bit flat.
What’s your favourite life or work related quote that inspires you or keeps you pushing on?
“Everything is figure-out-able” from the book of the same name by Marie Forleo. And this has become my rock-solid go-to mantra. Because it really is. Everything is figure-out-able!
Finally…what’s your favourite cake?
Does anyone really only have one favourite cake…? I think at the moment I would choose a Battenburg cake, as you get a good mix of flavours and it’s super bright and cheery (but if I can have a side order of sticky toffee pudding I’ll take that too please!).
Thank you Katie! We loved chatting all things HR with you. If you’d like to feature in our Cake & Chat, email your interest to [email protected].