Throughout her 25-year career, Kate North has been an advocate for both workplaces and women, and she is equally passionate about both.
Being honored by IAOP and HCL with the Red Ladder Women in Outsourcing Award for Leadership in Transformational Sourcing recognizes her outstanding achievements in workplace advisory and her inspirational example to women.
Receiving the award at the OWS 2.0 luncheon ceremony was a great honor for North. “To be recognized along with the other women honored was overwhelming,” she says. “Women are unstoppable. The power of seeing what has been done by the collective makes me even more vigilant about helping to promote great women and support them.”
Defining the Workplace Advisory
As Vice President of Workplace Advisory for Colliers, North views workplace advisory as more than selecting an attractive location to conduct business, but also a way for companies to leverage their environment to bring forth the best of their people, their productivity and creativity.
Seeing a void of a professional community for like-minded individuals in 2007, North worked to launch the first community of practice in workplace advisory within CoreNet. Then in 2012, she co-founded Workplace Evolutionaries (WE), a vibrant community of 1,500-plus members globally within the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). Today, she serves as Global Chair of WE. Her efforts helped to create and define the evolving profession of “Workplace Management.”
“We are extremely proud of Kate and the tremendous role she has with Workplace Evolutionaries at IFMA. Her effort to pioneer this area of work has created a place where workplace leaders go to learn from each other and drive the Workplace Management profession to the next level,” says Keith Perske, Senior Vice President, Workplace Advisory at Colliers. “Her perspective and leadership are greatly valued by our company and respected by our clients.”
Mentors and Life Lessons
North is just as passionate about the power of women helping women by coming together to advocate for each other through professional communities and mentoring.
“Mentoring is incredibly powerful and important – now more than ever before,” she says. “We have to navigate through a lot of disruption and change that is happening very quickly. There are no clear pathways so the opportunity to come together to share and coach and mentor is a win-win for us all.”
North remembers the “Aha moment” she had early in her career when her male mentor, a semi-retired senior executive, helped her see while trying hard to juggle her work as a vice president at a Fortune 500 company with raising her son.
“I realized the skills and experiences I was developing as a mother – the love and compassion – were not taking me away from my work and my opportunities but instilling in me all the qualities I need to be a highly intuitive and empathetic leader.”
As a mentor to women in Colliers and her community as well as men, North often passes on the advice she received from an entrepreneurial woman who she admires. Those words of wisdom: “Life has many chapters, make the most of each one of them.”
Over her career, she’s learned to find balance, be upfront and authentic, passionate about her work and detach from the drama caused by office politics.
“I love the idea of women helping women, and coming together rather than competing, and being strong advocates for each other,” North says. “I have been blessed with wonderful mentors, male and female, and their guidance and wisdom have given me insights and tremendous courage. Without their backing, I don’t know if I would have taken some of the risks I’ve taken over the years. I have a lot to pay back.”
At a Glance:
Current Role: Vice President of Workplace Advisory for Colliers and Global Co-Chair of WE
Other Roles: Founder and Chapter Chair for the CoreNet Chapter in New Zealand. Served as an Advisory Board Member for New Ways of Working and the New Zealand Green Building Council. Also, an active member of the Executive Women in Corporate Real Estate and serves on the Board of Directors for IFMA
Author: Co-authored two books, Work on the Move: Driving Strategy and Work on the Move 2, which are used extensively by IFMA members and associated academic institutions
Speaking: Disrupt HR (“Is Workplace Killing Your Company’s Culture?”) and iOffice’ s Workplace Innovator Podcast (Enhancing Your Employee Experience)
Prior Positions: Led global development for e-Work.com, developing highly interactive and innovative training/tools to support workplace transformation. Served as the global director of Ideation, a workplace consultancy and research group within Haworth Inc.; and was vice president of the Strategic Business Group within Herman Miller Inc., supporting organizational workplace transformation