There isn’t much that Kate Hardcastle doesn’t do. She has created businesses from scratch, advised some of the biggest names in business how to run theirs, founded a charity, sat on the board of a rugby team — and, for good measure, can also knock out a few good tunes.
“I am a perfectionist, I like things to be done right,” she says.
So far, Hardcastle has been doing a pretty good job of that. Her UK-based company Insight with Passion (IWP) has already notched up an incredible 80 clients. You have a business, no matter what size, that needs improving? Then calling Hardcastle would be a good place to start.
From brand transformation to marketing plans, leadership development to communication strategy, IWP is making big waves. The Co-operative Group, Gordon Brothers Europe, ECI, Frank Hudson and Willis & Gambier are among the wide range of companies that have come knocking on Hardcastle’s door.
So far, it seems they like what they hear. She says: “The key difference with IWP, I guess the key word, is respect. All the partners in my company have run businesses before, and we have all used consultants before. Some were atrocious, some were great. But essentially, you had people who never ran a business telling you how to run a business. What clients really want is someone to say: ‘Yeah, I know where you are coming from.’”
Hardcastle says she has worked with every type of business out there — from baby products to funeral companies (“We work cradle to grave”), and even with charities who want to raise awareness. But whatever the field, the problems are often the same.
“One of the biggest problems we find in any organisation is communication. Everyone thinks they do it really well, both internally and externally. But they don’t. Many people don’t even understand the vision of the company they work for. And internal processes are another big area, because we still spend a lot of time on ourselves. Things are just not done properly, even simple things, which leads to a lot of time being wasted,” says Hardcastle.
Hardcastle will be in Dubai this month – she is also a keynote speaker at the Arabian Business Forum on 21 May — and is aware that one of the major issues, especially in this region, is helping to grow family-run businesses. Many have struggled when it comes to corporate accountability and transparency, while there is no shortage of companies run by family members not always equipped with the skills needed to run large organisations.
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