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Meet the 40 Over 40 honoree: Kate MacNevin

Kate MacNevin is global CEO at MRM and one of Campaign US' 40 Over 40 honorees. Here, she discusses the future of the industry, the best use of creativity during COVID-19 and the silver linings of the past few months.

How did you feel when you saw your name on Campaign’s 40 Over 40 list?

Honored and humbled, truly appreciative of Campaign US’ recognition and for the immense support I have received. Oh and then I realized I can’t pretend to be 39 anymore!

Sum up your journey to where you are now in fewer than five words?

Embrace the unknown path.

Three qualities you need to be successful and achieve longevity in the creative industries?

Passionate, Humble, Honest

Worst thing about the crazy last few months? Any silver linings?

By far the worst thing has been being apart from the team and away from my family. Missing that human connection despite incredible technology that still allows us to connect with each other.  

But there are positives, and for me these last few months have allowed me to reconnect with friends and colleagues who because of time, distance and life have drifted. We have come back together, united, inspired and supported each other in different ways during this incredibly challenging time. COVID certainly has reminded us all of what is truly important.

Best use of creativity you’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Such a difficult question – there has been so much good work, but I think the most important work is the work that the team from UN Women are doing to raise awareness around the increasing violence against women and girls during this global pandemic. The need to shelter at home to fight the pandemic is necessary but has brought about another danger where we see a shadow pandemic growing, of violence against women. This work is powerful and important. 

What needs to happen to make the industry truly diverse?

We need to continue to listen and talk with open hearts and minds. But most importantly, we need to shift from tactical actions to sustained cultural and process changes that will address the systemic inequity in our industry. 

Purpose in business: A flash in the pan or the fundamental basis for the future?

Fundamental basis for the future – it is what consumers and our teams demand now.

How does the culture at your organization help you thrive?

The culture of MRM is so unique and special. We say we are “Better Together” and we really mean it and live it. Every day. All day. It is a culture that truly supports each other - it’s a culture that really believes that together anything is possible and we can figure it out. There is not a day that goes by where our teams are not connecting with each other, reaching out to each other, supporting each other with a can-do attitude that makes us unstoppable. It is this culture that inspires me each and every day to push myself.

If we took your team out for a drink, how would they describe you?

You should probably ask them! I think they would say I lead from the front, we are in this together and I bleed purple. 

Describe one piece of work you produced in the past 12 months that excites you?

There are so many great pieces of work over the last 12 months that our teams have developed I am not sure I could choose just one. But what I am most excited about has been the incredible work that teams have been able to create and launch while working remotely. It’s a testament to our team’s perseverance and passion and our clients trust in us.

Who's your biggest inspiration? And why?

I am inspired by so many people and moments. I would have to say the people that most inspire me are my parents. They have always taught me the value of hard work, the importance of family first, and the importance of unconditional support.  

What advice would you give to someone entering the industry? Any tips for success you'd like to share?

I would share an amazing piece of advice I was given early on in my career by my mentor (who is still my mentor!) which still drives me today. At a pivotal time in my career, as I was wrestling with my confidence and where or not I should take on a new role, he turned to me and said “You can do it, you need do it.” My advice to anyone starting out in this industry is to embrace the journey, do not be afraid to take the unexpected path and most importantly believe in yourself.

What’s in store for the future of your brand – and the industry in general?

At MRM, we believe in helping brands grow meaningful relationships with people – and in fact relationship is our middle name. In 2020, relationships have been put to the test in unimaginable ways and only served to reconfirm that relationships are essential. In order to continue to help our business partners and clients grow meaningful relationships with people, we have needed, and will continue to need to help them evolve to overcome the new realities.  Helping clients shift priorities, rethink their business models, innovate to survive, work in new ways will be our focus going forward.  

From an industry perspective, I do believe that this pandemic will be a turning point for many businesses and industries who will assess how to reimagine their business for the future, and a large part of this will be through digital transformation – processes, technology and workflows.   


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