Kate Billing
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About Kate

Human obsessed

A young Kate Billing

I’ve been obsessed with what it is to be human since I was 7 years old. At that tender age it manifested as an ambition to become a doctor, seeking to understand why people became sick and how to make them better. Over time, it’s morphed into something deeper and wider: how we can be and do better as humans in life and leadership, separately and together.

This human obsession guided my teenage years and tertiary studies into hard sciences and humanities. In my 20’s, it was challenging ‘lived experiences’ that took me into applied health sciences and  behavioural psychology. Then in my 30s and 40s as I grew my career in corporate HR and then as a leadership specialist in my own business, the obsession became focused on organisational culture, creating the conditions for performance, and human-centred leadership.

Now in my 50’s this human obsession is taking me down the path of better navigating the midlife transition, understanding ageing, exploring longevity science and the women’s health gap, and challenging negative stories and stereotypes about women in ‘the second half’.

Leadership Pragmatist

The Oxford Dictionary defines a pragmatist as “an advocate of the approach that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms of their success in practical application.” That’s me!

Throughout my more than 25 years in the people, culture and leadership space, I’ve always been focused on the development and testing of theories, concepts, models, tools and practices to immediate contextual challenges and opportunities in the real world.

One of my design principles is: the development that works is the development you put to work. I believe development experiences need to be designed with empathy for the leader’s contextual reality, built on human fundamentals (e.g. social neuroscience), and immediately applicable so it gets ‘baked in’ through the trial and error of deliberate practice.

I’ve honed this approach through my work as the Executive Development Director at Blacksmith, the human-centred leadership practice I founded in 2009 with my partner in life and business, Paul Leacock. Now with katebilling.com I bring my unique brand of pragmatic and deeply human development to a large, unseen, and under-served group of leaders: women in midlife and beyond.

Paul and Kate Billing

Midlife Activist

Kate Billing Listener Cover

My midlife awakening arrived as I approached my 50th birthday. Amongst the many elements of the ‘midlife maelstrom’ that ensued, I was brought face to face with internalised ageism and our society’s youth and beauty value myths as I let my silver hair grow out and slid kicking and screaming into perimenopause, raging against the lack of preparation, information and support available for this profound transition.

This time was an awakening, not just to myself but to the multiple and unattended struggles of all women in midlife. I was outraged by the lack of visibility our needs have and the way our age and experiences are dismissed, stigmatised, and used against us.

David Whyte, one of my favourite poets, says that “leadership is the willingness to be visible in the world”, to be seen to stand for something. An activist is someone who uses their leadership to visibly campaign for change. I never saw myself as an activist…but here we are.

As I awoke to midlife, I felt called to take a stand for women like me: to make visible the challenges and opportunities midlife offers a new generation of women, and the life and leadership impact we can create in the second half if we better understand ourselves and our experience, connect deeply with each other, and decide that the best of life and leadership is yet to come.

Working with me

Apart from just doing it, the second best way to learn anything is from the experience of others. I reckon that goes for learning about what it’s like to work with me as well. To do that, I encourage you to read the first hand experiences at the bottom of each page of this website and, if you want to know more, the 100+ personal recommendations I’ve received over on LinkedIn.

As a ‘starter for 10’ here are a few things I’d like you to know:

  • You’ll grow. I design human growth experiences and hold the space for you to test your edges. You’ll choose to make the most of it and do the work.
  • You’ll have a safe space. Experiencing discomfort is an integral part of the growth experience. You may feel uncomfortable from time to time, but you’ll never be unsafe. 
  • You’ll get practical tools for life AND leadership. Every day you have opportunities to lead in all areas of your life: with yourself, at home, at work and in your community. I’ll make sure you’re armed and dangerous for ALL of them.
  • You’ll act in service of the group. As much as you’re here for yourself, you’re also here for and with your fellow leaders. Sharing your experiences and insights as part of the development experience and learning from the women with whom you’re sharing this collective journey, is all part of the magic.
  • We’ll keep it real, no bullshit. Dropping our masks, speaking our minds, and stopping playing games that keep us small is how we’ll do things.
  • We’ll laugh, and sometimes we’ll cry. Emotions are a rich part of life and learning. Making it okay to feel what we’re feeling and use it for growth is vital.
  • We’ll keep it fully human. We’ll follow a ‘whole person + whole life’ approach using research-based methodologies built on social neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, chronobiology, philosophy and more. You’ll be seen as a human being as well as a leader.
  • We’ll grow a community. My vision is for us to create a lifelong leadership community of women who are authentic, powerful, and energised in their own right, and inspiring, supportive, and compassionate for each other. Together we’ll demonstrate new ways of being a woman and a leader in midlife and beyond.

What others say about working with Kate

black and white portrait of Marika Easwick-Field

Empowered, valued and authentically heard

“Kate is absolutely fantastic. She is not only incredibly knowledgeable but has a real ability to read the room, develop empathy with the people with whom she is working, and get the best out of them. Despite some of the more challenging topics we covered, Kate approached everything with a sense of lightness and humour which I really appreciated.”

Marika Easwick-Field
‘Big 6’ Law Firm Partner

black and white portrait of David Healey

opened a new chapter of self-discovery and growth

“There are pivotal moments and people in your life that you know are a major influence in both determining who you are and igniting the inspiration for aspirational growth in who you want to become. Kate’s humanistic approach to leadership has resonated deep within my core and opened a new chapter of self-discovery and growth.”

David Healey
Chief Digital Officer

black and white portrait of Sally Doherty

I never come away from a conversation with Kate, thinking about things the same

“If there is ever a time that we need the most human approach to leadership, it is now. Kate has the ability to help us look within ourselves, within the systems in which we work, and to ask the questions that lead us into deep, high impact change. I never come away from a conversation with Kate, thinking about things the same.”

Sally Doherty
People, Culture & Capability Lead