This International Women’s Day, we thought it was fitting to catch up with one of the women who’ve worked hard to make Booking Protect the successful business it is today. Meet our Business Development Director, Cat Spencer.
Cat first begun her career in the industry at AXA Insurance, working in the admin team before quickly progressing to her role as a Claims Relationship Manager, and later Operations Manager at Allianz Insurance. Her vast experience in the financial sector may seem like her career path was written in the stars but, as Cat explains, at the start of her career she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. “It would be fair to say when I started my career at AXA opening post and putting it in the appropriate paper file – I wasn’t planning a future career in insurance, but you know how these things go! I was fortunate enough to be able to move around for the right roles and have had some fantastic challenges over the years.”
A key factor in Cat’s early success was the support and encouragement of a female colleague at AXA. International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the support and camaraderie of women, taking time to look back and appreciate female role models and the parts they’ve played in shaping future leaders. Cat says, “Looking back she clearly took a massive gamble on me when others wouldn’t. She made me realise that giving people an opportunity is sometimes all they need to prove what they are capable of. She was brave and driven and they are qualities I really admire. I learnt a lot working for her.”
However, her experiences haven’t always been positive. “Some of the biggest hurdles I have had to face in my career have been put there by other women. I’ve had to work hard to push myself forward. Whilst there are other talented women within the industry, they may not have had the support, encouragement or opportunities I’ve received. It’s important for both genders to take responsibility for supporting both men and women equally.”
Cat joined Booking Protect back in 2015, heading up our Business Development team, responsible for finding and looking after new clients. She says, “Without a doubt one of the biggest challenges of my career started the day Simon Mabb and I had our first conversation about Booking Protect!” It’s been a whirlwind few years, as Booking Protect has welcomed a host of big names to our impressive list of customers. This includes AudienceView, TicketSource, London Transport Museum and LW Theatres to name just a few.
It’s certainly a demanding role, but a rewarding one. The business is still growing at a rapid rate, constantly welcoming new customers and receiving top 5-star reviews. There’s always change happening at Booking Protect, as we adapt to industry needs. “I have been so used to huge corporate companies where you need dozens of people to sign off on something before you can make a change, it was such a culture change in the beginning being part of a start-up. I love that someone can have an idea, or a customer can ask for something and a day later we have implemented it. It is great being able to move the company on so quickly.”
Working with a variety of customers, our team get an insightful overview of trends and issues impacting different industries. In terms of gender equality, it’s clear some sectors are still playing catch-up. “When I look at the arts and entertainment sector, I think they are ahead of the insurance world. I think it would be fair to say that the insurance industry has not been at the forefront of gender equality, but we’re slowly starting to see changes.”
These changes include offering training and development opportunities for all employees, empowering women to reach for their goals and move into senior positions. Cat’s advice is to find a good mentor, who will help to offer a level view when needed: “Good employers and managers will help develop and push you on (whichever gender you are).” Is there also an element of self-belief in play when it comes to finding success? Cat thinks so. “I think some of the most admirable and inspiring qualities are self-belief and bravery. Trusting that you have the skills and ability to make something work and then just doing it.”
Whilst many businesses have come on leaps and bounds, there are still underlying issues in the workplace often termed “Everyday Sexism”. As societal views change, we can expect to see a much greater importance placed on equality. Cat notes we’re living in transitional times, meaning there’s still a long way to go before we reach true equality as a society. “There are a lot of people who have grown up listening to comments and views that are ultimately discriminatory, so it is natural that some people respond accordingly. It’s about remembering that your first thought is what you are conditioned to think… what you think next defines who you really are.”
So why should we all join together and celebrate on 8th March 2020? “International Women’s Day is a reminder to stop and think,” Cat says. “It is about taking the time to reflect on the achievements of women and the steps that have been taken towards equality but also chance to assess what you are currently doing and what you can do in the future to make sure that we continue to make positive changes for women.”
We’d love to find out what you’re doing to celebrate the day! Connect with us on LinkedIn and share your stories with us.