Katie Mackay-Sinclair was a driving force in Mother London’s response to the pandemic, despite being on maternity leave for the first half of last year—and maybe even because of it, she says.
When it came to employees and their mental health, “it was useful to have an outside perspective,” she says. “I probably noticed that everyone had a thousand-yard stare before anyone else did because I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day. ”
As a well-being champion, Mackay-Sinclair, 38, drove decisions such as closing to new business in August, encouraging “winter Wednesdays” for people to get fresh air in daylight and putting together gift packages with items such as Fitbits, SAD lights and Uber Eats vouchers. Reinforcing morale helped the agency to thrive, resulting in new client wins including Samsung, Pepsi and Doritos, and Mother being named Ad Age’s International Agency of the Year.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t work so hard or so late, Katie. Get more sleep. And well done for wearing sunscreen; keep that up.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Without a doubt, choosing to stay at and committing to Mother. This question screams for an answer about a huge change or mega drama, or simply jumping to an opportunity elsewhere; but putting my heart, soul and focus into building and growing the place I love is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken—and one that continues to pay off in spades.
If you weren’t doing your current job what would you be doing and why?
Everyone thinks I’d be in fashion, but when I got offered my first job in the industry, I was doing the civil service fast track for linguists. So I reckon if I weren’t a Partner at Mother, I’d be a spy.
What should the industry do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Instead of grand promises, it’s our collective responsibility to bake DE&I into the everyday decisions we make in every single part of our business. This is about more than the talent we recruit and retain; it’s about addressing underrepresentation in how we work and the work we do. We need to build a safe space for everyone, and within it, give more and more women and people of color opportunities to lead, thrive and share their stories to inspire others.
Which campaign or other piece of work have you seen in the last year that you wish you had done?
Football (soccer) goes over my head, but even the most football-oblivious could not have failed to be stunned by Engine's Kiyan Prince campaign for EA Sports. The dedication and the commitment it took to make that happen, and the real world impact of every part of it just blew me away. Absolutely phenomenal.