Kate Bollanou

Kate Bollanou

What do you do?

As a Leadership Coach, I help shipping companies improve collaboration and communication among their teams and clients, through executive coaching, gender parity workshops and cross-cultural communication training. The maritime industry is truly diverse and it’s our responsibility to make each and every one of us feel included and respected.

What does a typical day at work look like?

A typical day at work would start by posting on LinkedIn. I then continue with engaging with my network and replying to emails. I might have client session during the day, or sometimes in the evening. I research shipping companies and the market, as well as industry conferences and meetings. It's essential for my business to reach out to shipping companies and discuss with them what their current challenges are and whether I can help them solve them. I then dedicate some time to develop corporate workshops, as well as to read books for my professional development. In general, my working day is split in two: I work about 4 hours between 9 am and 1 pm and then another 2-3 hours after 8 pm. It works well around my two young children, as well as my clients' working hours. 

How did you get to where you are?

As a child, I struggled with identity crisis because of my biracial background. I sometimes found it hard to understand certain situations, but as I grew up, I realised it was due to my ability to see these from two completely different angles. Changing the way I perceived this identity confusion, I started to embrace and accept it. My first degree and career were in the hospitality industry. This was my first exposure to a diverse and multicultural industry and I absolutely loved working in such a fast-paced environment. I worked in Greece, Italy and Dubai and after seven years in the industry, I decided to follow my family’s route and go into shipping. I moved to England in 2010 and after completing my M.Sc. in Shipping and Commercial Law, I found a job in a shipbroking company in London. As the only female broker, the only ex-pat and the youngest member of the team, I found it extremely hard to get my voice heard. After a while, I started believing my inner critic and I shrunk myself thinking that I wasn’t capable or smart enough. I went on to complete my Professional Qualification Exams with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, of which I became a member. While I was working for the same company, I welcomed my two children, but when I was six months pregnant with my second child, I was made redundant. By that time, I had already realised that I wanted to work with women and that I had to start my own business, so I can have the flexibility around my children. Not wasting any time, I started my training as a Leadership Coach and started building the foundations of my business. Two years in the business, I can now see clearly that everything I have been and done in my life has led me to where I am today. I believe it’s really important to ground ourselves and look internally for what makes us unique. Instead of trying to tick all the boxes and be who we’re expected to be by everyone else, we need to be loyal to ourselves and our values. It can be intimidating to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, where we have been told for so long to be and act more like men if we want to succeed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can succeed and still be as feminine as we want to be! My inspiration were definitely my two daughters! Looking at them and thinking about how my work could affect the way they perceive themselves in the future was what kept me going when things where tough.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

At this specific period of my life, I must admit that I don't have a lot of spare time. In the evenings, I prefer to read books for my personal and professional development. Reading is something I really enjoy and I see it as an investment in myself and in my future. I do squeeze in a few hours per week to do reformer pilates, as I have noticed that since I started working out regularly, my energy and mood are much better. A couple of evenings per week I take some rest and enjoy a movie with my husband.