After much anticipation, Her Edit LDN is officially back! For our first interview of the Autumn/Winter season, we sat down with Christine Kitching, Chief Business Development Officer at Marquee Brands, to chat about what she does, her inspirations, favourite sneakers, and why female empowerment is so important in the workplace. So, let's get to it!
Christine oversees all non-US business growth endeavors, including forming new high-level group strategic partnerships and business operations. With 20 years of experience under her belt, she has a proven track record of delivering results and driving company exec level strategies and financial performance. A well-respected market expert with combined luxury and consumer fashion, retail, sport/active, and home/lifestyle brand experience, she leads nine teams across the globe.
Hi Christine! First of all, being female in a corporate industry can be challenging. How do you overcome this?
I love this question! I don't believe we don't "overcome" it. Instead, we can set ourselves up to best navigate the corporate game by harnessing our innate strength, cultivated expertise, and work hard to develop a profound sense of self-awareness, to best navigate it.
Our journey is significantly influenced by the network of support that we build up around us so, aim to engage legitimate male allies who champion our growth, development, and successes. The space is not always so female-friendly. If we can remain true to our core values, emerging as indispensable and valuable team players, we're winning. I do think as women we should talk about our different journeys which shed light on so many areas where we may often feel we alone, or that it may be personal, versus the topic or issue being a wider or systematic one. By doing this we work together towards a greater sense of purpose and make an impact and difference for future generations to come.
Do you have any advice for other women climbing the ladder in their field?
Climbing the ladder can be brutal and I wear my scars proudly. They have shaped me into the woman that I am today. If you own your weaknesses and invest in growth and development, whilst always leading with kindness, you can go far. Throughout my journey, I've had the privilege of working alongside some of the most undesirable humans. Their behavior and toxicity showed me what not to do when leading others. I genuinely learned so much. While in the longer term it strengthened me, but in the shorter term it heavily affected my mental health and body. The lived experiences taught me the importance of hard work, balance, self-love, and why it's crucial to have a strong mindset and why it must be prioritised. It's really the key ingredients to become our best selves.
As we ascend the career ladder, you start to realise you hold the power for your own destiny. While you're building your tribe discern those who genuinely support your growth, from those who aim to throw you off course. The corporate landscape is like a multifaceted game, and everyone approaches it uniquely. My strategy is to play it with unwavering self-belief, respect (both ways) and kindness, never forgetting those who extended a helping hand or opened a door for me. I also think we must pay it forward because our ascent is inexorably linked to elevating others.
As women leaders we bear the responsibility of paving the way for the generations to follow. It should really become the norm to celebrate one another especially as we rise by lifting each other up. This is what will create a legacy of empowerment and inspiration for those who come after us.
As a lover of sneakers, what is your grail pair and what's next on your wishlist?
You’ve been all over the world for work. Where would you love to go next?
Definitely keen to explore the Nordics. I have been blessed to work and travel across much of the world already, on my exciting work journey.
What does Her Edit LDN mean to you?
It's giving permission for the ladies to participate and play in this space. I think it's an incredible initiative which will pave the way for exciting collaborations and partnerships. I can't wait to see what you have mapped out for Her Edit LDN!
Why do you think it’s important for companies to empower their female community?
You know, it's a remarkable truth that half of the world's intellectual firepower resides within women, and it's high time we really pondered this: Can any company truly afford not to harness the potential of its female community?
Personally, I feel incredibly fortunate to have cultivated a dynamic small circle of phenomenal women. Providing unwavering support, sage guidance, and candid truth-telling. Let's remember that our professional lives are akin to a relationship and just like in any relationship/partnership, it's essential to be attuned to red flags and toxic traits. When you do, work hard to maintain emotional composure and strategically plan your moves.
It's not easy but if you want to excel so recognise it's a must. Even in the most challenging of environments, there lie invaluable lessons waiting to be discovered. After all, it's often within adversity that we uncover some of our most profound insights and growth opportunities. Look for that silver lining, always!
What do you make of the Gen Z approach to working? Do you find it different to how you gained experience in the workplace?
Absolutely, and it's quite fascinating how distinct generations can be, but I must say, I greatly admire Gen Z. They seem to possess a remarkable level of self, understanding their emotional needs and a strong sense of boundaries, qualities I find truly commendable.
Speaking from my own experience, moving from New Zealand to London and willingly taking on unpaid internships just to gain British working experience, it was one hard road which took years to endure and overcome. As any immigrant knows, we're not afraid of hard work, critique or not fitting in. We will do whatever it takes to advance and become integral parts of something greater. The blood, sweat and tears were all worth it because my mindset was strong, and I knew I could not give up. At some point it would all pay off.
For this very reason, when I'm hiring, I always keep an eye out for the hardworking underdog. I understand the significance of such an opportunity and the life-changing impact it can have. It's about recognising potential and providing a platform for growth and transformation because not all top talent comes from red brick universities, colleges or even any college. Upbringing and circumstances should not limit a candidate's opportunities. Not when they are hardworking, capable, smart and most important, willing to do whatever it takes to level up and learn.
How do you feel social media has changed the working landscape?
From my perspective, I think it has truly enriched the professional landscape. Back when I was immersed in the world of Buying, I often turned to Instagram as a valuable resource to discover the latest trends, up-and-coming brands, and innovative designers. It unquestionably added a valuable dimension to my work.
On a personal note, I've found it necessary to exercise moderation and long periods of time out (not even logging on), when it comes to social media. While it can offer immense value, it can also be mentally taxing and hinder our ability to truly disconnect and recharge. Striking that balance is key to maintaining a healthy headspace and ensuring we have the opportunity to reset when needed.
Would budgets have been used on such a large scale for social strategies five years ago?
Absolutely, no doubt about it. However, it's important to acknowledge that back then, a significant number of resources were allocated to strategies that hadn't been thoroughly tested. That said, it's inspiring to see how far we've come since those days, and the opportunities to develop and leverage best practices for social strategies have expanded significantly. We're now set to chart a more informed and effective course forward.
How do you find new inspiration in your role?
I have a tendency to travel frequently for work, and I've learned to seize the opportunity to strike a balance during those trips by immersing myself in local culture, engaging in industry-related events, and devouring books. These are the essential ingredients that help me stay not just informed, but also motivated and deeply inspired.
My role is remote, and that means the responsibility lies squarely on my shoulders to ensure that I'm consistently nourishing my mind, heart, and spirit with positivity and growth. It's all about keeping that energy flowing in the right direction!
Any tips or guidance for young people today?
Don't hesitate to embark on unpaid opportunities that can fuel your learning and skills development. I had a couple of unpaid roles in my early 20s while I was studying because I was nervous about the competitive landscape in NZ at the time.
I prioritised work experience (on top of studies) which immensely paid off in terms of landing me incredible national and international opportunities. Don't be afraid to think outside the box because your journey is all about growth and seizing opportunities that come your way. Keep your eyes peeled because you create your own stroke of luck by sticking to your game plan!