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How To Rise, Grind And Shine In The Boardroom By Kate Middleton

CEO Kate Middleton on How To Shine In The Boardroom

Kate Middleton is the CEO of Censeo Engineering and Career Oracle, and although not royalty, she dominates in her own right as she is the ONLY female CEO in the Engineering and Insurance industry!

Women Love Tech interviewed her on how to be as productive and as successful as you can be in the boardroom.

Tell us about your company, what you offer and what makes you most proud.

Company Brief: CENSEO specialises in inspecting and reporting on all aspects of residential, commercial and industrial construction. With offices throughout Australia – and rapid response teams on standby to respond to events such as natural disasters – we are able to report on any volume of building claims in any location. – From LinkedIn.

What makes me the most proud is that I was able to save Censeo from the struggling ASX listed company it was part of and now it’s coming up to just over a year since I took over Censeo. We’ve survived through that first year and really re-established ourselves in the marketplace, attracted new clients and retained existing clients. Our team has also grown significantly as well. What I’m really proud of us having taking a bricks and mortar consulting business and converting it into a technology enabled scalable business.

How has technology helped your business – first as a start-up and then helping to grow your business?

Essentially, when I took over Censeo we became a start-up business again – even after 13 years of operation. I had to find a way to keep the business operating without all the hefty overheads of offices, lease vehicles, big servers and all of the expensive stuff that goes with having a business with a shop front.

By shutting the front down, moving to cloud based systems and leveraging CRM’s, intranets, apps, tablets we were able to cut operating costs by 40% up front which meant that in those early days we could keep the business running.

Technology kept our doors open as it allowed us to optimise our process. We are in a position now where all our senior management team works in different states but everyone can monitor the workload and the workflow and the performance of everyone in the team remotely. We are heavily reliant on technology because our team is located all across Australia.

KAte Middleton is the only female CEO in the Engineering and Insurance industry.
Kate Middleton is the only female CEO in the Engineering and Insurance industry.

So this new radar you’ve introduced is obviously a big talking point for your company at the moment?

It’s always interesting when you’re part of a very established market like insurance, engineering and building and loss adjusting how we all strive for quality however don’t generally extend our horizons past known technology.

One of the things we’ve been able to achieve is to take technology from other sectors that are not related to insurance and see what tools we can bring in to help speed up the assessment process and add value for residential and commercial clients.

What we have done at Censeo is we’ve taken technology that is used for mining and the military and utilised it in our own field. This piece of technology is a ground penetrating radar. It’s the size of a lawnmower and you push it through the property and it scans concrete and gives a diagnostic of utilities and cracks that are happening underneath the ground.

This piece of technology is quite ground breaking for the insurance industry as to get an similar report with an equivalent outcome you use four different specialists, ranging from a builder through to a geo-technical engineer with four separate reports and it will take anywhere between three to six weeks to obtain an outcome. Now, with Censeo, if we report it directly we can get that outcome in one search report.

How do your customers benefit and how does it make life easier?

Time, cost, quality, service – all of these core areas that make a value proposition appealing for a customer have been encompassed just by implementing technology that already existed in the world but hadn’t been used in insurance probably.

Do you have further plans to integrate other technology within the business?

It is vital for a company to always be on the lookout for new technology and forever change with the growing and adapting market.

"It is vital for a company to always be on the lookout for new technology"
“It is vital for a company to always be on the lookout for new technology”

Can you share with us 4 of your favourite apps and why?

Yeah, absolutely.

  1. Survey monkey – I really love to understand trends around how happy customers are across both my businesses.
  2. Whatsapp – because it allows me to stay in touch with my team and clients and transfer large files and photos quickly.
  3. PicMonkey – we use this quite a lot to edit pictures both for social media but also for documents.
  4. CamScanner – If I’m on the go and I’m a CEO and Director so I’m quite often required to sign important documents or sign purchase orders. With CamScanner I can sign the documents, take a picture of them and scan them with the same quality as a PDF that you would achieve through a desktop scanner, but I can do it all from my phone.

What tech gadgets couldn’t you live without and why?

I’d love to be one of those CEO’s who says they’re really sophisticated and has lots of different devices but honestly my Samsung does everything. Also my fitbit, I’ve got to keep myself fit especially with such a busy schedule!

Is there any advice you can share for start-ups in regards to which technology they shouldn’t live without?

Absolutely. Build your business from day one as though you expect it to be large and global. With the cost of CRM’s and other tracking tools it makes sense to do that straight away, gone are the days of relying on spread sheets. CRM brands to look out for include Boho or Sales Force.
It is really important to optimise your process from day one. This will get you in to good habits straight away and it will also mean that if you need to scale up quickly because you win a big account it will be more efficient in making the processes seamless.
You will also need a great line automated accounting platform like zero, too.

What would you tell your 20 year old self?

I would tell myself two things. The first one would be do it sooner – for most of my business ambitions or ideas I had the idea a few years prior to execution. The second one would be to set aside your ego and take the time to become deeply financially literate so that you can make good financial decisions and learn how to manage and reinvest the money that you make.

What’s your favourite inspirational quote?

One is: “You gotta risk it to get the biscuit” – Jimmy Fallon. I love that quote – anyone who follows me on Instagram will know that most of my entrepreneurial posts have the hashtag #yougottariskittogetthebiscuit. Because that is just life in general.

Robyn Foyster

Written by Robyn Foyster

Robyn Foyster is an award-winning journalist and former Editor-In-Chief of The Australian Women's Weekly. She is also the owner and publisher of Women Love Tech, Game Changers and The Carousel. Robyn is the owner and founder of a tech business called AR tech, where she helped create the world's first AR community shopping app called Sweep and her team produced the 2018 Vivid app. She is a speaker and a judge of the Telstra Business Awards and Mumbrella Awards. Robyn is passionate about supporting women in STEM.

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