Connecting Female Leaders for International Women’s Day

Bringing fantastic people together

One of the most fulfilling things we do at Virtua is use our vast network to connect people – and we don’t just mean candidates and hiring managers.

We recently stepped in to help New Era Cap’s HR Director EMEA, Anna Lloyd, in her quest to find an inspirational speaker to take part in their International Women’s Day event.

Anna was looking to secure a senior-level female in the sports and lifestyle industry. And we were delighted to introduce her to Kathy Hines, Chief Marketing Officer for North Sails.

Anna commented, “Kathy’s impressive profile fit the bill perfectly. We gave her a simple and flexible prompt: ‘Tell us your story.’ …Kathy demonstrated a remarkable level of openness on a professional level, freely sharing her experiences of navigating the highs, lows, and everything in between…Kathy is a remarkable role model for women in the business world.”

Following the success of the event, we were keen to catch up with Kathy to hear about her experience first-hand.

Introducing Kathy Hines

A self-proclaimed ‘open book’, both personally and professionally, Kathy Hines represents herself authentically in the hope of inspiring others to do the same.

She’s known James Watson, Virtua’s founder, for years, and said “James made the intro as he was helping New Era find speakers for International Women’s Day. I was delighted to help as I’m passionate about the topic of inclusion.”

Nike was the brand responsible for sparking Kathy’s passion for the sports industry when she started her career with them in Portland, Oregon. She’s remained in the industry ever since then, spending eight years with VF and another four as an expat in Switzerland working for Napapijri and North Face. Kathy cites the incredible places she’s seen and lived, along with long-lasting friendships she’s forged with colleagues as some of the biggest highlights. Plus, the enormous gratitude she has for finding joy in her work.

Juggling work/life balance

As a parent juggling a busy home life with her increasingly senior-level career, Kathy has also faced her fair share of challenges - all however fitting experiences she was willing to speak openly about at New Cap Era’s event.

“The most compelling experience is the many years when childcare costs exceeded my earnings. I made this investment because I knew it would re-balance in the long term…but I questioned it many times.” Kathy added, “I’m now in a position where I’m able to earn enough to cover all my expenses. However, as an overall culture, those with caregiver responsibilities are managing this every day and unfortunately it means that women often drop out of their careers.”

Kathy also admitted the ongoing balancing act she, like many working parents, faces. “Work and home can suffer. But I only travel when essential, endeavour to be home for dinner almost every night, ensure exercise is built into my schedule, and focus on the actions at work that yield the greatest impact.” In short, Kathy has mastered the art of prioritisation.

Breaking down barriers

Perhaps what makes Kathy’s story even more notable, though, is not the fact that she’s reached exec-level as a mother and female, but that she’s achieved it within a primarily male-dominated industry.

She explains, “As I grew in my career, I found myself amongst fewer female colleagues and mentors, so my support network was reduced…The key is finding this support, even if it means looking outside of your immediate workplace.”

As a result, Kathy’s found herself seeking support from outside of her industry and has built an extended network. She also reveals how podcasts and audiobooks are go-to resources, and she normally listens to them as she’s exercising. “My favourite podcasts include Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and anything with Father Richard Rohr,” she says. “And some recent recommendations are More Myself by Alycia Keys and Matt Haig’s The Humans.”

And for other women pursuing careers in male dominated spaces?

Kathy advises all the above, plus “Go after a role you’ll love and be exceptional at.” She stresses, “Growth will happen if you’re great at the job you’re in.”

Speaking out on diversity and inclusion

Looking to the future, Kathy hopes to maintain alignment between her personal values and career goals. “Alignment, joy, love. That’s all I really want”, she concludes.

It’s her hope that speaking at events like New Cap Era’s will inspire others to identify the things we all have in common – and achieve their own alignment too.

From Virtua’s perspective, we hope to continue to be able to connect people like Anna and Kathy to raise awareness on important workplace topics like diversity and inclusion.