Learning the skills of leadership: Katherine Ritchie CA
Successful Senior-level Executives require perspective and a solid support network. Katherine Ritchie CA shares how to sharpen your leadership skills, inspire others and transform your thinking.
When Katherine Ritchie’s responsibilities increased at work, as the Manager of Operational Transaction Services at EY LLP decided to dedicate more time to career development and different ways of thinking.
“People are busy juggling work and personal commitments, and therefore need to prioritise which development opportunities to undertake,” she explained.
“Access to learning opportunities and unbiased advice can be limited. I have a great support network at EY, but some of my friends who work at small organisations have no one who is naturally their go-to sounding board for help when considering development opportunities.”
CAs who aspire to the C-Suite have the opportunity to benefit from a unique career development programme, designed specifically to promote innovative thinking and leadership skills at the executive level. Katherine embraced the chance to work with Leading Figures, experts in coaching and consulting for finance and business professionals. They have produced the ICAS Leadership Coaching Programmes to accelerate the career growth of CAs and Senior Leaders, as Katherine found out.
Why did you decide to undertake the ICAS Executive Coaching Programme rather than another development programme?
I heard about the Programme at one of the ICAS Insight events, which coincided with me wanting to dedicate more time to my own career development and my responsibilities increasing at work. Not enough time is spent on exploring different ways of thinking and career opportunities, so it was great to do something for myself.
After the one-to-one coaching sessions, I now dedicate more time to myself, in order to invest in my own development and learning.
What are the key lessons that you have taken away?
Successful CEO leadership requires astuteness about others with regards to emotion and strategic personal drivers, which are competencies that require self-knowledge and self-awareness. The coaching helped raise my self-awareness and challenged me to acknowledge my values and think differently.
We typically learned some theory in the first half hour of our sessions, which helped prompt ideas for the discussions. Hearing opinions on leadership styles and approaches, building resilience, growth versus fixed mindsets, was really interesting and has prompted me to read more about the subjects.
How are you applying those skills to your role?
I am very conscious to actively listen, as well as pausing to think about the question being asked and how my answer could be received. After the one-to-one coaching sessions, I now dedicate more time to myself, in order to invest in my own development and learning.
Upfront on projects I like to discuss ways of working and set objectives with the more junior members of the team. Following the training about growth versus fixed mindsets, I am even more conscious of encouraging collaboration, sharing of information, asking and providing regular feedback and creating a safe environment to admit mistakes.
How has the programme delivered on your expectations?
When I first met the group, I wasn’t sure how effective the programme would be due to us all having different backgrounds. The programme really enables and supports all participants in pursuit of deeper self-awareness and improved leadership skills. Thomas and Russell from Leading Figures were very good and made us feel at ease to share our experiences and insights.
It was useful to share challenges and discuss potential solutions with people who think differently from me.
What would you say to other CAs thinking of enrolling on the programme?
If you are looking to broaden your learning and challenge your thinking, I would recommend signing up. Gaining a different perspective through the group discussions was interesting and the one-to-one coaching sessions were invaluable. They allowed me to explore challenges in my own life and be coached by someone unbiased. It was useful to share challenges and discuss potential solutions with people who think differently from me.
The views and opinions expressed are that of the interviewee, and not Ernst & Young LLP. Since this interview, Katherine has moved role to become Head of Strategy & Transformation (Technical Operations, Technical R&D and Quality) at Advanced Accelerator Applications.
Leading Figures, experts in coaching and consulting for finance and business professionals, have produced two ICAS Coaching Programmes to enhance leadership skills, promote innovative thinking and accelerate the career growth of CAs. The next cohorts of both the Executive Leadership Programme and Aspiring Leaders Programme will take place virtually from Spring 2021.
To find out more about growth mindset and hear coaches Thomas and Russell talk about our programmes, view our 'Coaching - The Growth Mindset' on-demand video.