Over the years, we have enjoyed many great successes, recruiting leading professionals across a range of roles, and helping them progress up the ladder.
One such success is Catherine Newman, who is closing in on a decade at GM&T, and currently occupies one of the most senior positions within the organisation. To help provide inspiration and guidance for professionals considering whether to make a GM&T career their next professional step, we’ve approached Catherine to share her story as well as a few tips for prospective candidates.
So, read on for the latest instalment in our Success Stories series, as we talk to Catherine Newman.
Hi Catherine, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, could you introduce yourself and your role within GM&T.
Hello, I’m Catherine Newman. I’ve been working at Gazprom Marketing & Trading for 10 years this coming August. I’m the General Manager for Global IT & Delivery for everybody in the Gazprom Marketing & Trading group. Basically, that means that I look after all IT operations, as well as all the delivery aspects, which I classify as people, processes and systems.
My team are positioned to resolve the issues the wider organisation encounters. A lot of the time when people say they’ve got a problem, it’s usually that two people aren’t talking to each other. So, we look to manage the people encountering the problems, as well as the systems and processes which may be inhibiting their performance. We’re not just an IT function, and I think that’s something that’s very important to mention – we’re working to streamline processes at every level.
As you’re in a very senior position, many candidates and current members of the GM&T team would like to know how you reached your current role. Could you tell us a little more about your career to date?
After leaving university, I worked with Pfizer for 18 months, before taking on roles in a number of dotcom businesses. I then moved to a small energy consultancy which ended up being one of the best decisions I could have made. I learned so much and went from being quite technically-orientated and all about programming to being far more interested in the business side of things.
From there, I moved into a business consultancy role, and worked at pretty much every energy company across Europe over a period of about four years. It was great exposure to what companies do well and what they do poorly, and how we can work together to help make things better. After working with BP, I decided I’d prefer to work with a smaller company, so I met a group of people from Gazprom down in Kingston in the very early stages of setting up the company.
I could see there was a lot of greenfield work to do. So, I joined GM&T as a contractor and 10 years later I am the General Manager for Global IT & Delivery.
Although you obviously have a lot of far-reaching responsibilities, could you give a high-level overview of your key responsibilities and day-to-day workload?
I am one of the 14 general managers within GM&T, and our collective responsibility is to manage the company’s activity to ensure we can generative revenue, pay our bills, and make cohesive business decisions.
It is my responsibility to ensure that all IT systems and processes are effective, efficient and fit for purpose. It falls on me to ensure that all members of my team are steered in the right direction, and contributing to the company’s greater health.
One of my jobs is to work out whether something is a strategic long-term goal, a short-term task or something that’s just a proof of concept. As you can see, my role is very much split into the operational side of things as well as strategically thinking about the group.
Since joining GM&T, what skills, proficiencies and leadership qualities have you acquired?
I think patience is a good one, and something I’ve learnt over time. You have to have attained good levels of experience before you can handle all the responsibilities and curveballs of seniority. I really appreciate the importance of stepping back, taking a deep breath and thinking before making a decision.
That takes me onto another big one – being able to listen, and trust others. You have to learn to let go of certain things, and effectively delegate. The classic challenge that lots of new managers have is they don’t know when to delegate, but you have to trust your team, and ensure you’re working with the right people.
If you were to give advice to new starters at GM&T about life with the company and how to be successful, what would you say to them?
I would reassure them that there is a really good culture here – people respect each other, they look after each other, and we don’t tolerate people who are rude. I think it’s possibly the most multicultural, inclusive company I’ve ever worked for, and I can say that having worked all over Europe with lots of different companies.
If you want to come and be part of GM&T, I believe you need to be enthusiastic. Our team is made up of dynamic people who really are looking for the opportunity to try and make the best choices, really pushing the boundaries. So, naturally we want candidates to exhibit that passion; we want to see people who are really enthusiastic about their role and about energy.
What are the most difficult aspects of working for such a global and multifaceted organisation, and what strategies do you put in place to manage and overcome these?
I think communication is key when working for such a far-reaching organisation, and naturally, a huge challenge. One of the first things I put in place when I took over the department was a very simple weekly email that we send out to everybody within the department globally. It’s basically all the different areas demonstrating the key things they’re working on that week. Immediately it made everybody feel a lot more informed, and better connected.
As well as keeping people abreast of what is happening, it reinforces what isn’t happening. We are able to address rumours, and ensure they’re dealt with appropriately – giving the global team complete clarity.
Would you be able to tell us about any exciting projects that you’re currently working on?
At the moment, we’re carrying out a number of hackathons. These are essentially platforms to help solve business problems, conducted by and utilising individuals from all over the business – not just technology professionals! At the start of a hackathon, you discuss the chosen challenge, and all work towards a solution. We’ve run two so far, and both have led to fantastic proof of concepts that we are now rolling out to production.
The business absolutely loves them because of the idea that you could solve a major issue within a day.
How important is it that businesses, departments and teams have a wide range of different personality types, complementing and challenging one another?
For me, diversity and different personality types are both paramount to a successful department. While we don’t want people screaming and shouting at each other, we want a mixture of people looking at it different ways. When I look at my management team, I’ve got a real mix of people who are all very different when you look at them as a group. Sometimes I just sit back and watch them challenge each other and solve the issues between them.
If you have a team who all think in the same way, it’ll be harder to find unique solutions to issues – you want people that look at things in slightly different ways, so you come up with the best options.
Finally, how would you define your own leadership style? Is it guided by a defined management concept, or has it grown more organically and unique to yourself?
I think my management style has definitely developed organically. I’ve had the fortune to work under a number of great managers throughout my career who have all shaped my leadership style. A big part of my leadership style is to monitor a situation and gather as much information as possible – I then start to develop solutions and ideas.
I’m a big advocate of letting people make mistakes, as long as they’re happy and willing to learn from them. So, I will always encourage my team to take a chance.
I’m also a big believer in ensuring you maintain a good work-life balance, I expect people to work hard but not persistent crazy hours. People need to see their family and friends and have time to do their hobbies and generally have the flexibility to focus on non-work related interests.
Ultimately, I like to lead by example – I’m a hard worker with a strong work ethic but I don’t work obscene hours, not all the time anyway! Longevity in this business is only achieved by having the ability to generate fresh ideas. You can’t generate fresh ideas if you are dead on your feet. So taking the time out to relax as well as working like a lunatic when the project requires and inspirations comes, has stood me in good stead!
We’d like to thank Catherine Newman for taking time out to talk to us about life at GM&T, and how she has developed within the company.
To discover more about careers at Gazprom Marketing & Trading, please visit our homepage.
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