Director of fundraising and marketing at Ormiston Families, Kate Higgs, offers some ‘advice to her younger self’
PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 October 2017
The death of her brother in 1998 was a life-affirming moment for Kate Higgs, director of fundraising and marketing at Ormiston Families.
After experiencing the care he was given during the last few weeks of his life at St Elizabeth’s Hospice, Kate decided to use her marketing and fundraising skills to make a difference in the charity sector.
It has led her to join Ormiston Families, the East of England’s leading family charity, in July, before which she was head of income generation at the national volunteering charity, Volunteering Matters.
In this role Kate achieved notable success, including growing the team and leading on a five-year partnership with the People’s Postcode Lottery to significantly boost funding. She has a 19-year-old daughter, Georgia, and lives in Debenham with her partner and their dog, Henry.
How would you describe yourself at 18?
A little bit lost. I had just finished my A-levels in Zimbabwe and did not have one idea about the career I wanted to pursue. I looked into university and none of the courses on offer appealed to me.
Unlike those around me I didn’t want to be a teacher or a lawyer - I would have preferred to be a vet to be honest.
My next step? My parents decided to buy me an airline ticket to the UK, where I would end up living and working in Edinburgh for three years. I must say, those three years turned a naïve 18-year-old into a savvy streetwise, ambitious young woman. It was my university of life.
What three tips would you give to your younger self?
1) To believe in yourself, your ability and go for it. If you want something in life, do not let anything hold you back. I was always told that not having a degree would hold me back, and it hasn’t. Be ambitious and surround yourself with good friends who will support and mentor you. If you believe, you can achieve.
2) Make the most of your surroundings. Get involved in your community, cherish your family and friends and make the most of all the opportunities that present themselves.
3) Eat well and keep yourself fit. As I have gotten older I have slowly realised just how important diet and exercise is to my wellbeing.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I wish I had worked harder at school. In all honesty, I was more interested in my social life and cruised through education. As I went to school in Zimbabwe, it was such a privilege as a girl to be able to go to school and I took this for granted. I just don’t think at the age of 18 I realised the full value of education in the world I lived in.
Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of the Income Generation team I nurtured from scratch at Volunteering Matters UK. We all worked so well together and achieved immense success for the charity.
Can you point to a turning point, a landmark which told you that your career would be a success?
I’d pin point to my time as an account manager at Young and Rubicam (a marketing and communications company) in Zimbabwe as my career landmark. I loved that job and it made me realise my true potential in building relationships and business development. It made me who I am today and gave me so much invaluable experience.
Why is Suffolk a good place to do business?
It’s so good to be back working in Suffolk - it’s a beautiful coastline county.
Business-wise there is such a supportive and vibrant voluntary sector as well as many opportunities to network with business leaders. Ormiston Families’ head office is based in Ipswich and delivers services across the East of England, Suffolk offers great transport links and is the perfect hub for our HQ.
If you could relive one day, what would it be?
It would have to be the birth of my daughter Georgia. She’s 19 now and I’ll never forget it - it was the most special day of my whole life.
If you were to choose one motto what would it be?
Albert Einstein sums it up perfectly: “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.”