Posted on 10 Feb. 2016
Sweet peas and spelling bees – what drives Kate Murray
By Slater and Gordon
Our clients are at the centre of everything we do. It’s a mantra that inspires our Operations Manager Kate Murray, and her vision for Slater and Gordon.
New Client Services (NCS) is the team here at Slater and Gordon that fields new enquiries from across Australia every day. Many of these people are reaching out to us during an extremely difficult period of their lives and our role is to do what we can to try to get them back on their feet and on the road to recovery. NCS averages close to 100,000 interactions annually through the various communication channels.
Kate’s vision for NCS is to incorporate new and evolving technologies in the ways the community contacts and interacts with us – making it easier for people living in remote and rural locations to get the advice they need.
Kate came to Australia from the UK at 11 years of age, and grew up in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. She tells us:
“My first job was shooing wallabies away from the sweet peas on a flower farm whilst weeding. I was then promoted to selling flowers by the side of the road.”
Kate studied tourism and was accepted as a flight attendant for British Airways, but her father didn’t want to lose her back to the UK, so she declined the offer. It was then she took up an opportunity at Suncorp, where she stayed for 15 years – working across many areas of the firm improving process.
Whilst working at Suncorp – during the severe Christmas holiday hailstorm of 2011 – Kate set up a dedicated assessment centre to deal with the high volume of claims.
“I’ve always been driven to meet performance goals. As a child, I was a shocking speller, but I joined a spelling bee fundraiser. Because I was a renowned bad speller, my family sponsored me at a generous rate. I dedicated myself to learning those 40 words, and ended up getting 40 out of 40. I sent my family broke.”
When she first became a leader, her manager told her: ‘Get to know your people’. This is something she tells us she's carried through her professional life:
"It’s important not to jump to conclusions and avoid pre-conceived ideas. Everyone has a back story – the iceberg effect. You don’t know what’s beneath the surface."
By getting to know your people, Kate says, you're in a better position to empower them, or help them solve their problems.
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