“The team are great to work with which plays a huge part in making my role enjoyable, as it’s so team-orientated having a good group to work alongside makes my job a lot easier!”

Next in our Hang out with Haughton series, we chat to Commercial & Operations Manager, Kathryn. After completing her A-Levels and then a business apprenticeship, Kathryn worked as a Digital Marketer in a small but busy digital agency. Kathryn puts the business and marketing skills she learnt in her previous role to use at HD where she works on the commercial aspects of the business, acting as an interface between HD and our clients.

What is a typical work week like for you?

I start the week with 3 meetings; one with the rest of the team at HD discussing what went on the previous week and what is planned for the upcoming week, any challenges etc. I then move into a production meeting with the MD, Design Manager and Technical lead where we discuss any project risks and concerns, commercial updates, and general business activity in more detail. The final meeting is with the rest of the sales and marketing team to discuss any recent enquiries & quotes and track where we are against our monthly targets. These meetings really set me up for the week and ensure I have a good understanding of where everyone is to enable me to easily carry out the rest of my tasks that week.

Every other day varies, and I don’t think I have ever had two days the same! Wednesday afternoons are when I attend webinars for my degree, otherwise my time is filled with meetings, analysing project and company commercials, ensuring the business runs smoothly from an operations perspective, liaising with suppliers and the wider team to market HD, and developing relationships with customers, prospects, and consultants.


What was the pathway to your role?

After completing my A-Levels I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, the only thing I knew for definite after many open days was that I didn’t want to go down the typical route of university post-A Levels! I found an apprenticeship in business at a digital marketing and web development agency which suited me perfectly and gave me a lot of invaluable knowledge of what it takes to work for an agency, juggling multiple projects all at once whilst remaining on hand for any one of those clients at any given time, as well as learning how to market companies online in a range of sectors.

After completing my apprenticeship and spending a couple of years focusing on social media campaigns, I moved to HD to assist the Directors with their roles and do the company’s marketing. I very quickly took on more and more responsibility and as the company started growing quite rapidly, we realised we needed more help on the marketing to keep up with our growth. This is when Amber came on board to take on the creative side of the marketing role, allowing me to free up time to focus on the marketing management and take on more responsibility for the commercials and operations, which is the main focus of my role now.


What has your experience of doing a degree apprenticeship been like?

I never wanted to go to university but was always adamant that I did want a degree, more for myself and to show myself I could do it. I am a firm believer that whilst having a degree is great, nothing beats real world experience which is why I didn’t want to spend 3 years at university, coming out with a huge student loan and not having much actual experience to go with it. When HD suggested a degree apprenticeship in business management not long after I started, this was the ideal situation for me.

You’re achieving the exact same qualification and learning the exact same information as those doing it the more traditional route. However, you’re also getting the experience of what you’re being taught, as well as being taught those invaluable lessons that only a workplace could teach you. The fact it is also free for the students is another huge benefit!

I would 100% recommend a degree apprenticeship to anyone. They aren’t just business focused and can be done in everything from nursing, to design and engineering. My only wish is that they taught less on the theory/models, and more on the how to do things – for example understanding why a company needs to market itself is useless without also knowing how to do things such as build a marketing campaign.


What do you enjoy about your role and working as part of the team at HD?

I love how multifaceted it is. Being a small business, everyone has multiple responsibilities that suit not only the business’ needs, but also what each person wants to get from their own career development. Having such a diverse role means each day is different and I’m always doing something interesting. The team are great to work with which plays a huge part in making my role enjoyable, as it’s so team-orientated having a good group to work alongside makes my job a lot easier!


How do you work cross-functionally with the team at HD?

Most of what I do can only happen with contribution and support from the wider team. Each week I meet with the design manager, managing director, technical lead, and sales team twice to discuss progress on key focus points. Although some weeks can be very meeting-heavy, gathering all this information is essential for me to carry out my role successfully and ensure the different elements of the business all work together smoothly.


As someone from a non-design background, what phase of the design process is your favourite and why?

Any phase where we’re doing prototypes, whether they are proof of principle in the concept stage, initial product prototypes in our Phase 2, or production prototypes in our Phase 3 – Design for Volume. For someone with no design or engineering experience, who also has to speak with and act as an interface for clients, being able to see and hold actual ‘products’ throughout the design process really helps me to understand all of the hard work the team have put in, so I can communicate this effectively to the client or on the website/ads for marketing pieces.


Please get in touch to find out more about working with the team at HD to solve your product and medical device development challenges.

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