Rising Stars: Katherine Bradford, Global Head of Marketing and Public Relations at Patsystems

By: Sophie Fletcher

“It’s important to have a woman mentor,” said Katherine Bradford, who was recently promoted to Global Head of Marketing at the trading technology firm, Patsystems. “Not only can you ask her about business and your career, you can also ask if it’s appropriate to wear dangly earrings in a business meeting.”

Joking aside, at the age of 26, Katherine Bradford has stepped into an important role at one of the leading technology providers in the futures industry. When I saw Katherine last, she had just returned from London, spending six weeks at the company’s headquarters. She was working with her new manager, colleagues, and clients to become better acquainted with Patsystems’ operations in Europe.

Katherine and I had met for lunch to catch up and discuss her new role. One of her new responsibilities is to understand market conditions and industry trends as those factors impact the firm’s marketing strategy. She mentioned the rogue trading scandal that rocked the European markets earlier this year and how Patsystems ran a marketing campaign centered on their risk management solution.

The current market conditions are also helping Katherine position Patsystems, as a provider of futures trading technology, in a positive light. With a struggling economy, there is an increase in leading volatility which ultimately drives the futures trading activity up.

Katherine had only spent 8 months as the Marketing and PR Executive for North America, when the opportunity for global responsibilities presented itself. She said that Patsystems’ Chief Executive Officer took a chance on her.

Her manager prior to Patsystems also took a chance on the young Bradford. After graduating from Marquette University in 2004, with a degree in Marketing and Advertising, a woman named Whitney Bright, hired her as a sales and relationship manager within U.S. Bank’s Workplace and Campus Banking division. Bradford spent 3 years at U.S. Bank and found a mentor in Ms. Bright.

Besides being able to have a candid conversation with Ms. Bright about workplace fashion, Katherine also received advice on how to navigate a male dominated industry.

“Because I am a woman and very young, I feel like I have a hurdle to overcome because some men will automatically assume I’m not as knowledgeable as them or they won’t take me seriously,” said Bradford. “There is no doubt that the business world has changed dramatically for women but I think it’s important that we continue to level the playing field by relying on our mind and not on our looks.”

One of the things Katherine has learned in her new position is that she needs a balance between her professional and personal life.

“I’ve learned that it’s okay to be extremely passionate about your work and invested in what you do, but you need to be able to separate yourself from work and not take things too personally. This is something I constantly have to work at. ” she explained.

Nearing the end of lunch, I asked Katherine if she could recommend any business books. She said that while she read Futures and Options for Dummies at the beginning of her career at Patsystems, she believes most of her knowledge about the industry comes from the people she has worked with; her colleagues, traders and people in the media.

“Most recently, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink which is a must read for someone in marketing,” she said. “This book is all about the power of perception and snap judgments. It examines how people make decisions and how we can manipulate first impressions. It was fascinating.”

Even though she says it’s luck, it is no surprise that Katherine’s career has catapulted since our introduction in October. When Katherine engages in conversation, she proves she is much more than a pretty face. She exudes talent, knowledge and ambition. Knowing there is much to come from this young woman, I asked for some words of wisdom.

“If I had to say anything I’d say be confident in yourself, use common sense and take everything in stride. You’re going to make mistakes along the way so just learn from them and move on. Rinse and repeat.”