leadership

Meet Kate Harris, the woman preparing Australia for a green, economic future

Women's Agenda /

This article is part of a new series by Women’s Agenda called ‘The Link’, which features profiles of Australian women across industries you may not know of, but certainly should. 

Kate Harris is serious about the green economy. In fact, as chief executive of Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) her entire MO is to make Australian organisations and government more environmentally accountable.

She’s working tirelessly to ensure Australia has a strong and sustainable future.

We sat down with Harris, to find out more about her work with GECA, what fuels her passion in this space, and her appeal for all Australians to lead.

Who and what do you lead?

GECA ecolabel — Australia’s independent ecolabel aiming to provide truth, credibility and transparency to good products and services, that are good for people and planet. It is too late to muck around with marketing and green wash. We have a problem on our hands and we have a society smart enough to solve it.

What are you working on right now that’s got you really excited?

Convincing Australian Government and manufacturers that if we don’t take best practice products seriously enough, Australia will not only miss out on great local and export innovative opportunities for the green economy, but will lose valuable economic export channels in the very near future. Watch this space Australia, it is time to get on board!

I’m excited that a deeper understanding is developing between buildings and humans. An understanding that the choice in materials, services and interior products of a building, not only have environmental impacts but also impact human health. I’m talking on a panel discussing wellness at work in a broader sense at Total Facilities Expo 2018 next week in Melbourne, so come along if you’re interested to learn more.

What one issue is making you really angry right now?

Easy – my first point above! Time to lead Australia, we are falling behind and we don’t even know it yet!

Oh and businesses that truly think price and profit share is more important than considering the health and wellbeing of you and your family and the people who make everything that we use.

Best piece of career advice you ever received?

Follow your heart and stay true to your values. Never compromise your values as there is no going back!

What would you go back and tell yourself ten years ago?

“Think carefully about being a CEO – it’s a big responsibility when you care so much about what you do.” I never would have believed myself anyway as I never intended to do CEO roles but I happen to find myself in one.

Biggest hurdle you’ve faced (or are still facing) in your career?

Self-care whilst also caring for people and the planet. I definitely have not got that mastered yet.

Just ask my team.

How did you work around it?

I have a belief in something more than the day to day. And I surround myself with people I care about, particularly my children. Most importantly, I live true to my values even when it exhausts me.

If I can’t live with me, I can’t live with anyone else.

How have mentors or sponsors (or both) aided your career?

In so many ways. I have too many to mention — beautiful humble people who inspire and motivate me. Without them, I would not be doing what I do today. Sometimes my kids are my biggest teachers as well as up and coming employees who are smarter and quicker than me and continue to give me faith in our future.

What’s your favourite piece of tech?

I struggle here as I wish we would put our tech away and connect with each other in a real way.

But I would have to say my mobile phone. It provides me with a connection to all the people I care about and my work which is my mission in life.

What daily publications do you read or follow?

Hmm. News Daily, to keep abreast of the news very quickly. I try not to delve into too much information and content unless it is the weekend and I have time to reflect with the news and a good coffee!

What apps or tools do you use to help manage your day?

Well, I am still trying to come to terms with Slack, Trello and many others at work, which make me feel old. LinkedIn would be a favourite, and Google Maps when I am heading somewhere new.

Any industry associations you’re a part of that you’d recommend to other women?

Be a part of any industry association relevant to your industry — not just those for women — and make sure you are involved and a part of all the important decision making. However, I do think surrounding yourself with like minded women in your industry is a wonderful support network and helpful through the tough times. I have surrounded myself with people passionate about our future through many sectors and expertise — men and women.

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now (for work or pleasure)?

Any good historic fiction that is in my nearest street library. It gives me a wonderful escape.

This is an edited version of an article that was first published by Women’s Agenda.

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