Kate Gatfield-Jeffries is an entrepreneur and diversity champion for young women. She has founded and been involved in leading several large-scale mentoring programmes to improve intersectional diversity and provide women with career opportunities in male-dominated pathways.
After finishing Law and Commerce degrees last year, Kate launched Moodi, a women-centric mental wellness brand. She is also the Director of Wave Seven, Australasia’s first TikTok-exclusive digital marketing agency. Kate won EY Global Corporate Finance Woman of the Year, was recognised as the New Zealand Young Woman of Influence Winner and listed in IFSA’s global 25 under 25.
You are forthright in your desire to champion female success and diversify female presence in commercial and legal fields. What makes diversity such an important asset to a workplace?
Diversity is a non-negotiable in creating a more equitable, innovative and sustainable world.
When defining diversity, it extends beyond a singular dimension like gender. Everyone carries a unique make-up of characteristics, experiences and adversities. The concept of intersectional diversity embodies these overlapping identities and recognises that people may face discrimination and oppression for different aspects of their identity such as age, ethnicity, or religion.
Alongside diversity, the other key element of importance is inclusion. You may have a diverse team, but this is effectively redundant if people are not empowered to speak up and be heard.
In any inclusive workplace, there is a strong commercial rationale for diversity. Substantive bodies of international research show that diverse teams get better results in every way.
Beyond this business case, there is an ethical argument to be made. Globally, we face a myriad of social, environmental and economic problems. I believe these can only be solved if we work collectively within all organisations, governments and communities by valuing every person equally for their unique strengths and perspectives.
One of your incredible passion projects was the University of Auckland Women in Law Program where you guided diverse female students toward entering the practice. What inspired you to start this program?
Championing women to succeed is something I am hugely passionate about; the young women of today are the leaders of tomorrow.
Meeting other ambitious young women gives me so much inspiration and hope! Many are highly purpose driven, resilient and daring. They know how to use technology to empower communities and movements for meaningful change. They just need access to opportunities and the rest will be history.
In 2018, when I got into Law School, 60% of students were women. But if you looked beyond this statistic, many of these women came from the same backgrounds and communities. Law School was gender diverse, but it lacked intersectional diversity. I knew we could do better.
This Programme paired diverse women seeking to gain entry into Law School with a senior female Law student to provide additional support and guidance. By developing a nuanced application process, we could identify known hardships like being an ethnic minority, but also less visible challenges like having a learning disability or caring for a parent with long-term illness, to name a few.
Since inception in 2019, the Programme has supported over 500 women and continues to run today. Most importantly, it has created a supportive sense of community for women, who at times, felt marginalised.
Since 2016, you have interned in a variety of major firms and have won an accolade of awards, being the New Zealand Young Woman of Influence, EY Global Corporate Finance Woman of the Year in 2021 and listed on the IFSA Global 25 under 25. What would be your main advice to young women looking to become leaders like you?
We can all be, and are leaders, despite the perceptions created by stereotypes. Advice that has helped me become a better leader is to:
(1) Align your goals with your passions. What work excites you? What are you doing when time flies? When you demonstrate genuine passion and deep commitment, it motivates others to unite and achieve a common goal. Also, in my experience, when you face adversity, persistence is easier if you’re doing something you believe in and is meaningful to you.
(2) Take risks to reach these goals. Push your own boundaries. Twelve months ago, I felt very lost after being rejected from a corporate job that I had spent five years preparing for. I picked myself up and focused on my passion, uplifting women. I started a business with this purpose, was given a platform to help others and moved to live and work in the Caribbean. Giving up a corporate career straight out of University was a big risk, but with big risks, there are big potential upsides and I have never looked back.
Do you have any mentors or role models that inspire you and if so, what have you learnt from them?
Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX and first self-made female billionaire has always been an inspiration to me. Sara is a master of mindset, which is a foundational building block for any success.
After failing the Law School admissions test, she sold fax machines door-to-door for eight years before starting her business.
She emphasises the importance of not fearing failure. Failure is not trying. Recognise that failure is not the end. Trust your gut, visualise where you want to end up and be a no limits person.
In 2022 you have launched not one but two entrepreneurial pursuits, co-founding Moodi and Wave Seven. What have been the highlights of this career progression?
Becoming an entrepreneur has been a life-long dream. I love working at the intersect of my two greatest passions; uplifting women and using entrepreneurship to achieve far greater change than possible alone.
With Moodi, I am on a mission to create supplements that help women feel better. Working alongside other young women, combined with my own experiences, made me realise the importance of protecting and improving mental wellness. How can we go out into the world and kick ass if we don’t feel mentally energised, confident and motivated?
The first products are protein powder blends with added herbs clinically proven to boost mood and reduce stress. They taste incredible and launch soon which is very exciting!
Using TikTok to build a women-centric community for Moodi exposed me to the power of sharing content authentically to engage and connect with others. This led to me to Co-Found Wave Seven, a marketing agency helping Australasia’s most progressive brands do the same on TikTok.
While I am early in my entrepreneurship journey, I want to encourage other young women to start and scale businesses. The world needs more women founders, and our generation can change that.
You can follow Kate’s journey on TikTok @kategatfield and @moodiblends.