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Kate Hawley

Forestry Commission Senior Manager

About me


NAME: Kate Hawley (nee Roberts)

CITY: York

COUNTRY: UK

NATIONALITY: British

BACKGROUND: Geology and Physical Geography BSc (Hons) - Edinburgh University 2006-2010

ACTION/SECTOR: Agriculture and Livestock; Politics and Government

POSITION: Partnerships Manager

ORGANIZATION: Forestry Commission Yorkshire and North East

My Background and Career

I grew up in York, attending a local comprehensive school from which I graduated top of my year with a prestigious scholarship to Edinburgh University. I completed a geology degree with top honours, excelling during my time at university through serving on the committees of several societies and representing Edinburgh at international student conferences. I was offered a competitve exchange at the University of Miami, Florida, where I spent a year working on the paleoclimatology of South Florida and the Caribbean.

Immediately after graduation from Edinburgh I was successful in gaining a place on the UK civil service fast stream and completed several jobs with the Forestry Commission over 2 years - starting with the management of £2m worth of forestry in Scotland, before spending time in Wales working alongside Welsh Assembly ministers and project managing research in tree and forest-based entymology. In 2012, I was delighted to be offered a promotion within government to manage all forest-related partnerships in Yorkshire and the North East of England. Currently, I work in our York office, with frequent travel across the UK to sit on national park steering panels and represent the Forestry Commission to wider government.

I am a certified Project Manager (APMP) and I am an associate member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, Association for Project Management, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Chartered Management Institute.

I truly believe that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can be successful professionally - it comes from a commitment to work hard, play hard and have as much fun as possible!

My Experience

Economic: I attended the local comprehensive school with limited resources, having to work extremely hard through school to be chosen for a prestigious fee-paying scholarship to Edinburgh University (only one offered per year from hundreds of applicants - mostly from private school institutions).

Family: The rest of my family did not develop the competitive, driven attitude that defines me and are, at times, a little bemused by it all! For many years they have had to cope with me moving every 6 months. Although I enjoyed the fast paced, adventurous life, I missed some important family moments along the way, including the death of my grandparents - this was very difficult.

Personal: Moving every 6 months and being in 5 countries in 7 years makes settling down very difficult! I missed the stability of a steady home and friends but throughout I kept reminding myself that it was for the best and I would have itchy feet if I stayed still.

Social: One of my biggest challenges has been the fact that I am a driven, extroverted, competitive woman in an organisation full of men older than my father! My age means people have struggled to take me seriously sometimes and I have had to work double as hard to prove I am a serious contender that can deliver results. As well as leading, I love working as part of a team and my natural competitive drive has sometimes got in the way of being the best team player I can be. At times, I have had to take a step back, laugh and enjoy the ride!

Others: My own confidence - I need to embrace who I am but still learn to work on my mistakes. I still have a lot to learn from the people I work with - no matter what your age, personal development should always be a priority

My Skills

Skills: Networking, Being a friend as well as a manager, Speaking my mind when needed, Being able to adapt my way of working to suit the situation, Myers-Briggs, Negotiation, Management Theory, Professional Development, Personal growth, Enneagrams, Mentoring, Coaching, Project Management

Suggestions and advice to reach goals: Don't be afraid to aim high - not everything is possible but you have to try it to find out! Don't be afraid to fail - when I have fallen down in my career, it is the understanding I have gained on how to right the situation that has given me the skills and know-how to succeed in the future. You are NOT too young and this is NOT a man's world - instead, it's all about working hard and aiming high, no matter who you are or where you have come from. Take advice from everyone you meet - no matter what they do - we all have different fortes and you would be surprised what you can learn from people you just walk past every day

Hints & Tips

Lucky saying or phrase: You've got to be in it to win it" - You'll never know if you don't try!

I never thought I could be the one person to receive the prestigious university scholarship on offer, but my Father told me to try anyway - "how will you know if you don't have a go?" Similarly, the civil service faststream seemed like a competitive pipe dream of graduates that would never be offered to me. But you've got to be in it to win it, so I went in for it... and won it!

I love people - getting to know colleagues, friends, acquaintances, strangers on the bus - and hearing their stories and guidance. I am firm believer in constant mentoring (both formal and informal)! I would not be where I am without it.

Assets to be developed: Social Media (your public perception means everything) - my generation have grown up with this and it will continue to influence our lives in the future. How do we use this effectively and professionally?

Weaknesses to be overcome; Under-confidence - especially among women. The awful economic situation - we need to learn to cope with lower finances, freezes on pay and increasingly competitive grants. In an extravagant world, how do we learn to be fiscally responsible?

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