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Katie Mcconochie, Learn Change - Managing Director

After leaving music school, Katie Mcconochie tried life in the world of IT but soon found it wasn't for her. Rather than sticking it out in a job she didn't love, Katie took the brave decision to set up her own consultancy business and now enjoys helping business leaders support their staff through change. She talks to The Industry Leaders about her journey so far.

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

I nearly became a professional harpist but, apart from not relishing the prospect of carting an enormous harp around the place, I realised early on that it would be a tough way to make a living. Instead, I ended up working in IT and Telecoms. The Tech side of things wasn't for me - instead, I became more and more interested in how business change impacted people and how often 'the people side of change' is ignored or left really late in the day.

So I decided to set up my own training consultancy helping business leaders know how to support their people through change - a set of skills that have never been more important!

What kind of work does your role involve?

I help people understand that resistance to change is normal, helping leaders understand that if they don't explain to their teams why there is a need for change, they are likely to be demotivated or stressed. I also work a lot with my clients to help them shape the behaviours and values they want to cultivate to deliver success for their customers. My work is usually a blend of diagnosing problems, training, coaching and helping individuals gain a little bit of insight about how they show up at work.

What gets you excited about your industry?

What excites me is the ability to help individuals become more resilient in the face of change. Of course, it's not easy, and we all have varying degrees of fear when faced with change - especially when it is outside of our control. However, the most rewarding part of my work is when I bump into someone several months after I've worked with them, and they enthuse about how they have managed to apply a little tip or technique that I've shared with them in a training or coaching session.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

If you are unhappy - take a step back, make a plan and put a time deadline on deciding what you will do if the situation you are in hasn't changed. That advice has helped me make some tough career choices - but always made me happier.

How do you support aspiring leaders in your field?

I am a big collaborator, so I like to work with formal and informal networks - sharing what I've experienced with people and picking up tips from them too.

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?

I am an avid LinkedIn scroller - I tag articles that catch my attention. Attending shorter webinars during lockdown meant I could top up on a lot of exciting topics without having to register and travel to a dedicated conference.

What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?

Setting up my own training consultancy has been a bit of a roller-coaster after having the comfort blanket of corporate life for 30 years. However, working with a couple of great coaches and mentors has helped keep me motivated, and I've loved working with a like-minded group of people who have also been setting up their own businesses.

Knowing that you are not alone and other people are facing similar challenges has been a vital part of keeping me focussed on what I want to achieve.

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

After dishing out some cash to any needy friends and family, I'd set up a foundation to re-establish music in schools. I was fortunate to experience an amazing musical education in Glasgow when I was growing up, and it has enriched my life immeasurably. All kids should have that opportunity. Although I didn't carry on with music as a profession, I still play in an orchestra, and music is my passion.

How do you switch off after a day at work?

Apart from music, I like to get fresh air and exercise every day. Whether through walking my dog, playing golf or tennis, I need time away from the screen. I actually find I have some of my most creative thoughts when I'm walking the dog.

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

I'd love to find a way for big companies to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience that independent trainers and consultants can offer. Unfortunately, it seems to be the norm to use a company from 'the preferred supplier list'. I always wonder who prefers the suppliers - it's not usually the person who wants my services!

What book or podcast should everyone know about?

I remember being blown away by Steven Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People when I first read it. More recently, I have enjoyed Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

How should people connect with you?

*Ever wondered what kind of leader you are? Take our free quiz to find out.

**Looking to level-up your leadership skills? Check out our article on the best self-help books for business leaders and entrepreneurs.


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