WhittakerBrown is a consultancy lead by Catharine Brown –
who was Catharine Whittaker before she married Mr Brown, hence the name.
I formed WhittakerBrown after a career in commercial marketing. After a spell in an advertising agency, I worked for Marks & Spencer and The Economist in senior marketing roles – latterly as Global Marketing Director at The Economist Intelligence Unit.
What an amazing job! Working with such clever people as you would expect at The Economist, and on such a dream brand for a marketer. I led a global team of marketing, sales and customer service staff around the world, based in London, New York and Hong Kong.
It was an amazing job – but not very family friendly, with lots of waving goodbye on a Sunday afternoon to head to Heathrow. So after my second child was born, we had a complete life change – we upped sticks and moved to Bath (after visiting for a weekend) and I decided I wanted to be around more for my kids.
Few companies were offering leadership roles with flexible working 10 years ago. So I launched my own business as a self-employed consultant, to work at a senior level and set my own hours.
And even fewer companies were driven by both profit and purpose then. So my focus became the charity sector, in order to make a small difference to the world and spend my time on projects I believed in. I had worked on charity accounts while at the advertising agency, and after some pro bono projects, I worked out my transferable skills and WhittakerBrown was born.
Over time, my clients increasingly asked me to be involved in strategy creation – working alongside them and their teams to think about the big questions they are facing and how they might answer them.
And my focus on charities has broadened to include businesses driven by their values.
So where am I now?
Still in Bath – it’s such a beautiful city to live in!
I’m mum to two teenagers and I could not be more proud of the articulate, confident, talented young people they have become.
I’m on the Board of ActionAid UK, the international development charity with the aim of alleviating poverty and addressing human rights inequalities, with focus on the rights of women and girls.
And I’m working with some inspirational clients who are transforming lives every day – the lives of people with cancer, people in poverty, people whose rights have been taken away, people with disabilities. What an honour.
As you’ll probably have gathered if you’ve read My Story, values are important to me. The brand values of the organisations I work with, the personal values of my clients and the behaviours that embody them. I’ve worked with many clients to help them express their organisation’s unique values and articulate the behaviours that go along with them. Here’s mine:
Authenticity is defined as “being real or true”. So for me, it’s important that my clients know that WhittakerBrown is me plus a range of associates. But mostly it’s just me. You’re not buying a large management consultancy solution with a team of consultants working on your business. Nor a swanky office and a receptionist.
Sharing my experience
Many consultants, coaches and facilitators remain neutral when working with their clients. They consider it a virtue not to offer advice or share their own experience.
It is important to me that my clients find their own solutions and carve their own path to their organisation’s future. However, with many years’ leadership experience, and expertise in helping organisations deliver change, I will share my opinion when I think it’s helpful. But I’m clear it’s always your organisation and your decision how to proceed.
Integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change”. For me, this means not taking on work that I don’t feel qualified to do, or working with a client where I cannot add value. I will always try and refer clients on to other associates or people in my network who may be better suited to a project rather than stretch my expertise too thinly if I don’t feel confident I can do a good job.
Time is money, as they say. As a consultant, my fees are charged based on time spent working for my clients, and as much as I would love to, I don’t work for free. I volunteer and share my expertise for a cause that I am passionate about, by being on the Trustee board of ActionAid UK.
I offer potential clients an hour’s free consultancy either face to face or by telephone, to ascertain your needs, work out next steps and to establish whether I have the skills to help you. And I’ll even buy the coffee.
Mark is an exceptional leadership development trainer. He founded mch: positive impact in 2005 to increasing the positive impact of individuals and third sector organisations through staff development.
Mark and Catharine have together created a range of leadership development courses for the National Trust, on topics including persuasion and influencing skills, building emotional intelligence and effective leadership styles.
Jenny is a brilliant researcher and writer. She has the amazing ability to turn the complex into straightforward, accessible communications. Her work includes public sector bids and tenders, and grant and trust applications for charities.