To celebrate 12 months of SHESAID’s Inspirational Women series, this April we will be featuring some of our favourite from the past year. These women are leaders in their chosen field and have shared with us and our readers their expertise, knowledge and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role:
Kate Vale, Managing Director of Spotify – Australia and New Zealand
Tell us about your role? What is it? What do you do on a day-today basis?
I manage a team of around 20 people in Sydney covering all aspects of the business from Sales, Label Relations, PR, Marketing and Business Development. Every day is quite different – I can be going out on sales calls, speaking at events and conferences, managing our P&L and managing budgets, forecasting numbers, staying up late to get on conference calls, hiring amazing people, helping put together proposals, meeting labels and artists, attending gigs, etc.
How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?
I started my career thinking that I wanted to be in Human Resources, however after a couple of years in the job I realised it wasn’t for me. My career took a turn when I started a role for TMP Worldwide who had just acquired monster.com. This was my first taste of digital and was around 1997 when this ‘internet thing’ was just taking off. I knew this is where I wanted to focus my career and 17 years later it is where I remain. I’m very lucky in my current role at Spotify that I have been able to combine my passion for music and digital – it’s my perfect role!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I tend to draw inspiration from senior business leaders within the business I am currently working. For example, at Google I was lucky to work with Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Meyer – both very different leaders. At Spotify, I take inspiration from leaders such as Daniel Ek and Jeff Levick.
Outside of work, I also draw inspiration from my family. My husband is one of the founders of digital start-up, ROKT, and they are doing game-changing things. My mother has always inspired me. She worked hard to bring up my brother and I, balancing a career as a graphic designer with hours that allowed her to spend time with her children. I also love fitness. I draw inspiration from many individuals who have excelled in their fitness careers.
Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?
I have never had a specific mentor however I generally look to people I admire to inspire me to achieve my goals. I have been lucky in the companies I have worked for to have people on my side who have helped progress my career.
What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?
My first stumbling block was realising that HR wasn’t for me and trying to find a role that suited my skills and experience outside of HR. I was lucky that the role I found was looking for HR professionals to move into a sales-oriented role. My next stumbling block (or so I thought at the time) was being made redundant from that role two years on. This was literally the best thing for my career as I found a role at OzEmail (Australia’s 2nd largest ISP at that time) in the media sales department and there began my career in online advertising.
What are your goals for the future?
I have many goals both professional and personal. I want to ensure I have a long and satisfying role at Spotify. This is the most satisfying role I have had in my career and I am excited to grow with this extraordinary company. I also want to ensure that my professional and personal career remains balanced. I want to be able to spend as much time with my children as they grow. My family is the most important thing in my life. I love our annual family holidays – it’s what keeps me going!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
I always tell people it is important to follow your passion. If you can find a career involving your passion it makes work so much better. There is nothing better than enjoying going to work! Also never give up. I have had to knock down doors to get where I am today. Always vocalise where you want to be. I would not be in this role if I had not have told Shakil Khan (an early investor in Spotify) that I thought Spotify was awesome and I would LOVE to work for them when they launched in Australia!
To indulge in some of Kate’s favourites, see here: Kate’s Pearlers
Isabelle is a writer who has a hundred-and-one side-splittingly funny stories about growing up at an all-girls boarding school, with a chocolate habit that requires constant monitoring. Follow Isabelle on Twitter.