Meet Kate Herbert – Managing Partner – Head of People at OMD UK

Our People Team look after all OMDers and what a year it’s been for them! We recently sat down with Kate Herbert, Managing Partner – Head of People, to hear about her overall strategy for the agency’s people, making sure they become the best they can be and ensuring OMD UK is a fantastic place to work.

As a relatively new member of OMD UK, what strikes you most about the agency from an HR perspective?

I’ve been at OMD UK for almost a year now and I’m pleased to say it feels like home. This is thanks to the great people we have in every part of the agency and the support they have given to me and the People Team as we started to shape and deliver the You@OMD UK proposition. You@OMD UK is the brand we have created  that houses everything we do for our people such as OMD Academy (our brand new learning and development programme), Licence to Switch (our rotation programme), OMD Life (our wellbeing programme) and Giving it Large (our CSR programme).

What strikes me about OMD UK is that it has really smart people working on great clients and that makes ensuring we get the HR remit right, really important. We absolutely have to hire the right talent. We ensure we manage that talent and have a rigorous ID appraisal system with a formal six-month review to ensure we are setting clear objectives and our people know what we expect of them.

OMD Academy is testament to how important developing our people’s skills and careers is in the agency at every level. We also have some fantastic benefits here. Our recent summer party, organised by our Minerva Club, was a massive success and is just one of many agency events held each year that brings the whole agency together.

In your experience, what are the most important things you can do to get the best out of the agency’s people?

I think the most important thing is to ensure we are engaging with our people regularly and giving them a means of feeding back. OMD UK has an annual staff survey which is key to assessing how the agency is feeling across a whole host of areas including culture, environment, work-life balance, training and management. That feeds into the agency planning for the forthcoming year in terms of focusing our efforts on the areas we could be better. We can all come up with great ideas and ‘stuff’ but it has to be relevant and aligned to what our people want and need.

I think OMD UK is the best agency in town for getting everyone together regularly and updating people on what’s going on. We have a monthly agency company meeting called Shouts which always has a good turnout. OMD Share gets the agency together to celebrate the great work we are producing for our clients and our company away day is all about the agency strategy, culture and future focus. For an agency of over 300 people, to get everyone together so regularly, I think makes OMD UK a really special place.

We also have ‘Ask Dan’, a feedback tool on our intranet that enables people to anonymously email our CEO with anything that is on their minds. Dan always ensures he gets any issues resolved and updates the agency at our company meetings. It’s a simple idea but powerful!

Learning and development is obviously key to the agency – how does OMD UK go about helping its people grow and develop?

Our people are the single most important asset OMD UK has. In such a fast moving industry, we need to equip our people to be a step ahead in what’s happening in the market and to have informative conversations with our clients. OMD Academy is our brand new learning and development programme that focuses on developing agency craft skills and developing our people’s careers. The Academy houses all internally and externally-run training for every level and department.

We have identified seven core areas that will propel our agency forward and will give our people vital training that will expand their knowledge and expertise. From innovation to insight, from client services to commercials, OMD Academy delivers relevant training for our people but, more importantly, it is mainly delivered by our people so is unique to the agency and has its own OMD UK specific point of view.

Every single person at OMD UK will have the opportunity to learn from our in-house experts and industry-renowned external facilitators about the things that matter in our exciting industry. So far the launch has been a huge success and the demand from people in the agency wanting to attend the training has been incredible.

Finally, what are you most proud of in your time at OMD UK?

There are two things I’m particularly proud of. The first being OMD Academy which has landed so positively with our people here and has caused such a buzz in the agency. I’m looking forward to expanding what it offers and seeing it take our agency forward in terms of OMD UK’s strategic goals as well as becoming a core part of the OMD UK culture.

The second is my team. Since joining we have been on a fast-paced journey but we’ve achieved amazing results that have led us to creating You@OMD UK. They stuck with me through the good, the bad and the ugly! I am so proud that we are working and delivering great work together that the agency is really enjoying and supporting.


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