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Women Of The C-Suite: “Embrace the qualities that women leaders instinctively have” With Kate Urekew

Embrace the qualities that women leaders instinctively have vs. trying to emulate the qualities associated with male leaders. Embrace the…


Embrace the qualities that women leaders instinctively have vs. trying to emulate the qualities associated with male leaders. Embrace the hard conversations as constructive opportunities to enhance the end results and build stronger bonds. Acknowledge the wins, remember more success happens with the strength of the team vs. the output of any one individual.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Urekew. Kate is the Founder & CEO of Revel Experiences. Revel’s focus is on creating unique impactful experiences to incentivize employees, acquire new clients, and retain loyal customers. Kate has worked in the loyalty marketing space for over 20 years and developed programs for brands Marriott Rewards, SPG Moments, American Express, JPMC, Merrill Lynch, Ford Motor Group, Biogen and more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have spent my career in Product, Brand and Loyalty Marketing. My passions is understanding what makes people tic, and creating a product, service, or experience that fulfills a personal need. Once we truly understand the influencers that impact target behaviors, which is basically better understanding people and their environment, then and only then can we shape a successful program.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

We launched this company with a keen focus on quickly growing our business in the most economical and efficient manner as well as leveraging the best talent possible. We started with a remote home office in Boston and in Dallas, with a goal to expand to offices in each location within the year. As we began to hire “the best talent” available, we quickly identified talent outside of those two geographies. In addition, we identified emerging roles that allowed for flex-time efficiencies that proved to be a benefit to staff and the company. As such, we challenged ourselves to whether we truly needed a physical office, or whether we could try and grow our business in a fully virtual capacity. We are now four years in business, with nine team members in five different geographies. We anticipate we will open an office within the next year, but it will be to serve as a “mini” camp for our strategy sessions, brainstorming and team building purposes, rather than counting face time and butts in seats. We believe if you provide an environment where people can function in a more balanced manner, they tend to be more productive, dedicated and loyal.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest stories about a mistake I made when we were first starting was related to the dynamics of our virtual model during a skype meeting. As I knew some attendees would be in the car, and would be using the call in for phone only, I decided to put my hair up in a messy bun, no make up and an athletic sweatshirt. Part way through the call, I accidentally unclicked the video block without noticing until everyone said, “so great to see you”…needless to say, I was mortified and haven’t sat at my computer for a meeting without being in a presentable dress code since!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our company was founded on a passion for people. Each person on our time holds that same passion and inserts it into every element of our company — Operations, Customer Experience, Program Development, Digital/Social — even Accounting! We believe we are successful because of a collective, innate passion for creating moments in life people will never forget — both our clients, and their customers.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are working on an exciting collaboration with a start up company that we believe will be a disruptor in the way individuals capture and catalog their personal life experiences. We feel this product will provide a mutual benefit to brands as well as end users in creating stories and sharing memories in an entertaining and innovative manner.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Embrace the qualities that women leaders instinctively have vs. trying to emulate the qualities associated with male leaders. Embrace the hard conversations as constructive opportunities to enhance the end results and build stronger bonds. Acknowledge the wins, remember more success happens with the strength of the team vs. the output of any one individual.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

When you have a large team, develop an org construct that isn’t too flat, and isn’t too vertical. Many leaders make the mistake of being on the extremes — ie, too flat is a sign of poor delegating skills, and often more of your time will be in managing people vs. strategic input. Too vertical creates too much of a hierarchy that can be inefficient and poorly received by individuals trying to ascend the ladder. Ensure everyone has a clear path to achieve the career goals and hold your leaders accountable to being accessible and supportive of those goals.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Honestly, my mother and my daughter. When you prepare to take the leap into the entrepreneurial pool, you are often met with more individuals who share the 10 reasons not to jump vs. the 10 reasons to jump. “It’s not the right time, you just bought a house, your daughter is in a new school, you don’t want to risk your nest egg”, and on and on. My mother said, “Take your shot. I believe in you and your ability to be successful”. My daughter said, “It will be kind of cool to have a Mom who owns a business”…and she was 13 at the time! Both inspired me beyond words and I have never looked back. That said, I am also lucky to have a strong circle of successful men and women executives and entrepreneurs that have played key roles in inspiring, advocating, and supporting the evolution of Revel. It is important to have a trusted network to bounce ideas, get objective input and guidance. The biggest mistake would be to decision in a vacuum.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am a HUGE fan of the following organizations: Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, 100 for 100, and The Dana Farber. I feel strongly that social change and improvement is amplified when you have an intimate, personal, hands on connection. Junior Achievement provides exposure to students to a wide array of executives and professionals across many different industries. The requirement is 1–2 hours a week, and presents students with insight to a world of business opportunities, professions, as well as key skills such as interviewing, presentations skills, etc. Many of the students do not reside in geographies where they have exposure to such a breadth of professions, and enthusiastically welcome the support, guidance, and input provided to enhance their future path to success.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)Leadership Lessons I learned as an Accomplished Female C-Suite Executive

Be Tenacious — Let’s face it, we can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, drive the kids to the bus stop, and meet an angel investor by 8 am! Why? We have a tenacity and perseverance whereby failure is not an option. The same submissive labels that hovered over us to impede our success, have now ignited a movement of change. Our passion to persevere and our tenacity to overcome is based on an internal need and confidence to deliver positive outcomes — for home, family and work.

Embrace Empathy & Understanding — One of our strongest advantages to achieving success as women, has ironically been historically labeled by society as one of our weakest characteristics. Our ability to understand and empathize during key situations actually allows us to lead, motivate and create unparalleled loyalty in teams. Women are more likely to take the time to internalize the importance of influencers affecting individuals and to adjust strategies accordingly.

Know Your Audience -It is estimated that women account for roughly 80% of consumer purchases. This puts women squarely in the driver seat of maintaining key insight to the nuances affecting an enormous amount of purchase power. This key insight and perspective can allow women to identify gaps in the marketplace quicker, as well as to identify critical solutions that optimize outcomes and advantages for that same consumer base.

Collaborate! — Our ability to “nurture” actually allows us to work better in teams, bridge gaps across differences, and identify assets among individuals and allocate tasks accordingly. Women tend to see individual strengths that can be fostered and are able to provide a strategy and roadmap to get there, whereby men tend to see weaknesses and struggle to optimize skills that can’t be fostered independently.

Know How to Read a Room — Women tend to assess body language with precise acuity, “read a room” with ninja skills, and adjust communication strategies in real time to take advantage of those cues.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Take the time to help support young adults who may not be in a situation as fortunate as others. Share your learnings, help them understand and identify their unique talents and how they have an opportunity to succeed beyond their zip code. Share with young adults that when we rise we have a responsibility to pull up others along the way…and that is how we make the biggest change.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you spend to much time thinking about what you don’t have, you will never realize all the amazing and special things you do have”. Many of us plan out key elements of our life, and then realize, life actually has its own plan for us — sometimes not in sync. During those moments one can take two paths. Either wallow in self pity and envy, or take inventory of our individual success metrics, blessings, accomplishments, and be grateful. It is a choice, and I choose to be grateful.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

  1. Instagram: @RevelExperiences
  2. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kateurekew/
  3. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/revelexperiences

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

Originally published at medium.com

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