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TGtB Meets....Kate Westbrook - International Women's Day Special
Thrings partner Kate Westbrook is a leading member of the firm’s Defence sector group and a member of the Energy and Waste sector group, she chatted to us ahead of International Women's Day on March 8th.
Which woman would you compare yourself to?
I don’t – I think it’s great to take inspiration from other women (and men) but comparisons can often leave you feeling second best.
What would you say is your most valuable skill and why?
Multi-tasking and organising (can that count as one?). I’m a lawyer so I will always have at least eight client matters live and needing attention on any one day, and for me my clients are an absolute priority. As a partner at Thrings, I also have a business development role as well as certain supervisory and managerial duties. And as a mum I need to make sure I keep on top of the school admin, ensure homework gets done, and sort out school uniform. So being organised and being able to multi-task is a must.
Why do you think it's important to have an International Women's Day?
Women have had to fight for equal status with men, and while great progress has been made in many countries, we must recognise that this is not the same the world over. International Women’s Day gives us time to celebrate what has been achieved but also focus on what is yet to be done.
Do you have family (and/or children)? How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Yes, I’m married with two children. Maintaining a good work/life balance is a constant challenge – especially being in a client-facing role where service levels are important – but it involves:
- Being an equal partner with my husband Steve – we share the day-to-day mundane stuff to make sure we can both have an equal share in the ‘life’ part of the work/life balance.
- The support of Thrings who fully respect the need for staff and partners to have a good work/life balance. I work Monday to Thursday and remote access to work systems means I can log back in and continue working when the children are in bed if necessary.
- Clients who are upfront about their service level requirements – they know I will pull out the stops and do whatever is necessary when something is urgent, but in return will let me know when there is no time pressure.
Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career?
I’ve had a long think about this and I honestly don’t think that I have.
Do you ever experience any discrimination in the work place because of your gender?
Not as a lawyer - I was promoted to partner a few months after returning from maternity leave with my first child. But I still remember being on the receiving end of sexist abuse during a holiday job working as a waitress. I didn’t deal with it then in the way I would now but I think the experience made me even more determined to succeed.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?
If you think you will have children, make sure your chosen life partner (if you have one) will share the parenting/housework at least 50/50.
Do men ever feel intimidated by your success?
Not as far as I’m aware – but if they were intimidated they probably wouldn’t tell me!
If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be?
- Marie Stopes
- Helena Kennedy (human rights lawyer and author of one of my law text books at university)
- Tanni Grey-Thompson
- Maya Angelou
- Emily Davison
As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Head of Business Legal Services at Thrings, mother of two teenage girls who keep their room tidy and who tolerate their mother’s taste in music!