In our final “Women Who Rock” profile, Rebecca Farrar-Hockley — buying and creative director at London’s Kurt Geiger — sounds off on three hot topics.
The advantages of mentoring informally: “As a manager of a largely female, young population, I’m sometimes made frighteningly conscious of their desire to emulate me. Finding time to form close bonds and to mentor in an informal way and shape the career growth of aspiring young female buyers and designers is a pleasurable and important part of my role. We actively encourage internal promotion within our organization, and helping to accelerate the careers of talented individuals is critical to us. Kurt Geiger supports college students at Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion, and I do regular informational interviews with college students.”
Navigating work-life balance: “If you want to have a successful career that you enjoy, it can’t be about ‘work’ versus ‘life.’ My career is an important element of my life, and I have always been determined to enjoy it. I’m incredibly lucky that the creative nature of my job means I also don’t need to divide my time too much into ‘work’ versus ‘life.’ During the working day/week, I will often find some time to do nonwork-related stuff, such as visiting an art gallery or having my hair done. [On the flip side], I’m often happily thinking about or doing work late at night or during the weekend. I work hard, but I can’t say I feel overly stressed or short of time for other things I want to do, so this merging of the two seems to work for me. Frankly, I think it makes me better at my job — I can’t think creatively/strategically if I feel I’m stuck on a treadmill. It probably helps that I don’t seem to need a great deal of sleep.”
Male versus female leaders: “I can only of talk here about my experiences, and wouldn’t presume to imply that these are a ‘truth.’ In general, I have enjoyed male rather than female leadership. However, I’m not sure that my experience has been gender-driven but rather more personality-driven. And certainly, I have met a number of women during my career that I know I would have enjoyed working for. In many ways, I share many of the leadership styles of my male colleagues. But upon reflection, there are perhaps aspects of my leadership that are different because I’m female. For example, in some situations, my male colleagues seem to be more task- or action-driven, whereas I often like a collaborative approach to stimulate a discussion and encourage thinking. But that may be down to personality rather than gender as well. Certainly, I think a successful organization needs both.”