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Q&A with Kate Hamer, digital consultant and latest Squared Online tutor

Jenni Armstrong

Former Brand and Content Manager, Google

Squared Online has a hand-picked team of the brightest and best in digital who deliver weekly live classes, presenting the latest case studies and adding colour to the content with their experience.

Our roster of industry stars features brand strategists, digital consultants, MDs, data specialists, Client Partners, futurists and the Head of Interactive Experience at Ordnance Survey. Their combined expertise covers social, mobile, content, search, display/programmatic, data and insights, innovation and change and digital trends, and they work at the cutting edge of their respective fields.

Kate Hamer spent 15 years working for large international brands before starting her own consultancy, and we’re thrilled to welcome her as the latest addition to the Squared Online tutor team.

Hi Kate, great to have you on board! Could you introduce yourself?

Hi! I am thrilled to be joining the Squared Online team!

I’m a ‘millennial at heart’ – meaning that I am too old to be one really, but I certainly like to keep my finger on the pulse as though I am. I’ve been passionate about communication from a very early age and so as the world has evolved to use more digital media, it seemed natural that I should work in that arena.

I love having ideas and can’t resist sticking my oar in when I think businesses have opportunities to develop and grow, so last year I left the corporate world and set up my own consultancy. I love it because I get to work across a range of industries and projects. One morning I might be producing a football podcast with one client and then in the afternoon working on a big digital transformation project with a global brand.

How did you get involved with digital?

I studied International Business and French at University and joined the Orange (now EE) marketing graduate scheme when I finished. I stayed at Orange for 7 years and in the last couple of years I was the Communications Manager for the Orange Retail Stores. At the same time I was working instore at weekends to earn a bit of extra cash – this proved to be invaluable as I got to see, from the other side, the amount of information store staff received from us. There were no rules about how often we emailed and anyone in the business could email all stores asking them to promote their product or handset. So we developed an intranet with clear guidelines – this was my first foray in to digital.

I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed in the mobile industry, so I started to look at other industries and got a job at Unilever in their etail team managing Tesco.com and Asda.com accounts. This took my digital experience to another level and I never looked back.

You’ve worked for some great brands, including Unilever, Orange and Disney – is there a particular campaign or project that stands out? 

I’ve been involved with some brilliant campaigns and projects through my career, it’s hard to choose one!  Working on the launch of Orange Wednesdays was great fun – it gave us a real edge with the trade (I was Trade Marketing Manager at the time working with the Carphone Warehouse, Phones 4U etc) as it was a reason why Orange would be chosen over and above the competition. That partnership meant that I was able to work on Star Wars special edition handsets, and The Incredibles too.

At Unilever I wrote myself into the joint business plan that we had with Tesco and seconded myself to their web development team. It was great experience and I was able to work on a big research piece with them about the future of technology.

At Disney Store I worked on the launch of our ecommerce offering in France and Germany – it was fab to be part of a massive company like Disney but also be working like a start up!

I won’t give too much away as I will be using all these case studies during the live classes!

You were heavily involved with digital transformation at L’Oreal – could you talk a little bit more about that?

I think digital transformation is a really interesting and important topic for most large organisations, though I like to see it more as digital evolution rather than transformation.

In large brands you have a lot of very skilled and experienced people in marketing, sales, finance, legal and so on, but who often studied their craft in the days pre-internet – I actually had to use the library and photocopy pages from journals when I was at uni!

This means that the ways of working that the organisation has always used and is comfortable with, are not necessarily fit for purpose anymore. This can be daunting for people in senior positions as they start to worry that they don’t know everything they need to know.

Digital transformation is about upskilling the workforce whilst also showing them that the skills they do have are no less relevant. We’ve all evolved to use digital in our every day in our personal lives, so it’s just about bringing that into your work life. I think there is sometimes an element where people think that it is more complicated than it is – digital often gets confused with IT, and so they think it is really techie – whereas it’s really just a new range of communications media which enable us to better target our consumers with the right messages.

A large part of any digital transformation project is to inspire the organisation to get excited about the opportunities digital offers, rather than be intimidated by having to learn new things.

What attracted you to Squared Online?

I am passionate about digital and closing the skills gap in organisations so that they can really benefit from the opportunities it brings.  When I was at L’Oreal I had some involvement with the face-to-face Squared Programme and I think it’s fantastic that the online version reaches so many more people.

I’m a bit of a digital geek too – I love talking about all this stuff and if I do it as a tutor then at least my friends get a break…

What are you most looking forward to about being a Squared Online tutor?

I think it will be really interesting to be speaking to the students on the course. They’re bound to bring new perspectives to the different topics and I love to have a debate. Hopefully it will be a mutually beneficial relationship where I can give them some examples of how things work in the business world, and they can challenge my thinking too

How do you think Squared Online helps students?

It’s a fantastic tool. I love the fact that it isn’t just teaching about digital, but it is also giving the opportunity to work in virtual teams and develop your communication and leadership skills. In this new world, organisations will become increasingly fluid and those people who are experienced in different and remote working processes will be the ones who get the best results!

You can follow Kate on Twitter @KateHamerLtd, and read more news and comment from the Squared Online Expert Speakers here.

Find out more about Squared Online: you can give us a ring on +44 (0) 20 7173 5938, or download the brochure to read about the course and the Squared experience.

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