Women’s History Month is an awareness initiative that Index Exchange holds very close to our hearts. Our Index Women’s Network (IWN) celebrates, motivates, and inspires women, fiercely advocating for their growth and encouraging mentorship and allyship within Index and beyond.
On International Women’s Day, I invited Natalie Hatch, strategic partnerships lead at Kinesso Australia, to join our IWN meeting to discuss her experience of being a woman in data and technology—a largely male-dominated industry. Over the last few years, Natalie’s career has progressed from her time as a programmatic specialist at IPG to focusing on guiding and developing strategic data and technology partnerships for Kinesso clients.
Amelia Ward: Tell us about your career journey, and what led you to your current role.
Natalie Hatch: I came into Cadreon straight out of university and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do as a career. To be honest, I still don’t always know. Because of that, I have always kept an open mind when it comes to what I’m interested in, and I have always tried to chase those interests.
Outside of my role, I looked for opportunities to bring other teams and products in our business closer to my clients and elevate them. I spent time working on the data management platform (DMP) implementation for NBN and Nestle, and I worked with our solutions team on their geospatial and data products, which were really new at the time.
After five years of moving up the ranks in programmatic planning and strategy, I felt like I needed a change.
I was having a chat with Tom Edmonds, who was running the solutions team at Cadreon, and he asked if I wanted to put my client skills into practice in helping build out the new launch of our data product. While it was terrifying considering I knew next to nothing about it, it was that kind of a challenge that gets your blood pumping, so I took the dive.
AW: What would you say to someone who is trying to pivot their career, as you did from Cadreon?
NH: I would say be brave, open-minded, communicative, passionate, persistent, and put yourself out there to work with other teams. There is nothing stopping you from exploring new pathways and pivoting your career.
The more you work across teams and talk to people, the more you can gauge your interest levels. If you find something you are interested in, it’s worth opening lines of communication with your manager to see if there are opportunities for you to improve your skills or shift to different teams.
AW: What are the biggest hurdles you have had to face as a woman in data and tech?
NH: Unfortunately, there are still people in this industry that underestimate women in general, but especially in data and tech-related roles. It’s definitely getting better as we see more women rise to management; however, being underestimated is a fairly common challenge.
I’ve been incredibly lucky that Kinesso has always been led by people who do not treat women any differently, but I’ve experienced this across the industry. I try not to let it bother me. At the end of the day, it just gives me the opportunity to prove them wrong.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from those hurdles is to not place self-imposed boundaries on myself and to ensure that I’m an ally to other women, someone who provides support and strength to those around me.
AW: Have you had moments in your career that haven’t worked out the way you expected them to? What did you do to change your situation?
NH: In my seven years at IPG, I haven’t always known what my next step will be. Moving from a strategist at Matterkind to a solutions director at Kinesso was a fork in the road for me and I honestly wasn’t sure I was making the right choice.
But a couple of years ago, I asked Pat Darcey for his advice on how to evaluate large life decisions when you aren’t sure which path to take. He told me to start with a list of everything that was important to me, personally and professionally, and rank those in order of importance.
Whenever a big decision comes your way, or whenever you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t sure it’s working out, reflect upon your situation in relation to that list.
Are you currently getting the top five most important things to you? If not, is there something you can do to change that? It gives you some power back, and it helps you centre yourself and focus on what’s most important to you.
From there, it’s just bravery to take the steps necessary to correct your course.
AW: Have you had empathetic leaders and allies who have helped you along your career? What are the most supportive moments you have had with them?
NH: Definitely! From a leader’s perspective, I’ve been lucky enough to have had three CEOs at IPG that were and are incredibly supportive of my career, my growth, and of women in general. I also have a sensational manager who is my greatest ally. He is always open to listening and learning about my experience and the challenges I’m facing.
I also have extraordinary relationships with some pretty amazing women in this industry. Women who have not only charged to the top of their fields but also made a huge effort to support other women along the way. They are the type of people who promote and advocate for women because they want them to succeed and become known, even when they don’t personally gain from it.
It’s these kinds of relationships I value most because they act as a trusted sounding board.
AW: What’s your personal brand, and what’s your advice to other women looking to build theirs?
NH: Years ago, I went to a Brand Love Academy session and listened to the Impossible Institute’s President and CEO Dan Gregory speak. He said that self-awareness is critical to building your personal brand. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of performing in your role and making your clients happy.
While that’s important, he also made this point—are you aware of what you stand for? What you can contribute to the industry? Where your opportunity for growth is? Answering these types of questions will help you develop professionally and personally.
Something else he mentioned, which I loved, is that your brand reflects what people say about you once you leave the room. You cannot control everything people say and think about you, but you can control what you do, say, and think. You can work on your weaknesses, create opportunities and small wins, face criticism, and stay true to your values and beliefs.
All of this will become noticeable to those around you. That is the beginning of your personal brand.
I’m continuously growing my personal brand by understanding other people’s positions and being helpful without compromising my personal boundaries or my work-life balance. Hopefully, that results in people forming a good picture of who I am as a professional, and as a person.
Put yourself out there! Attend and speak at industry events. It’s great exposure, you’ll learn a lot, and if you’re anything like me, you will love the adrenaline rush that comes with it.
Be confident, listen to people present, read the content people put out, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. Whether you are a man or a woman, data, and tech are fast-paced industries to work in.
I’ve had moments in my career where I have felt that I shouldn’t ask for help or ask questions out of fear that people might think I’m not smart enough to be in this role. But honestly, it’s the best way to learn.
AW: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever received?
NH: The best advice I have been given is to back yourself and follow the path that’s best for you.
There have been a number of people in my career who have pointed out to me that there is a difference between arrogance and confidence. All too often women err on the side of caution, fearing that people will find us arrogant and that will hurt us in the long run. But playing it safe can often do just as much damage to your personal brand and your career.
Building confidence and being comfortable showing that confidence to others is so important, not only for your career but for your own self-worth, too.
But the other side to this coin is being too confident, which turns into arrogance. Someone once gave me this piece of advice: they said, leave your ego at the door, it’s not welcome here. If your ego is preventing you from asking for help or listening to others’ points of view, then all it’s doing is hindering your growth.
Personally, I find that is the most challenging line to walk. It takes time, practice, and patience to find the perfect balance.
At Index, we believe diversity, equity, and inclusion will thrive in our workplace as we all learn from one another. We are committed to creating actionable programs and leading the exchange of ideas that will promote limitless inspiration.Back to blog