Kate Tilbrook is a senior design researcher at UniSuper, responsible for creating and driving research and programs to improve customer experiences. By all accounts, she excels at her work but it's her committed, caring and intelligent approach, coupled with her problem-solving skills and insights, that has made her colleagues recognise her as one of the industry's Unsung Heroes, as well as someone who might just change the world!
"I love problem-solving and thinking critically - research ticks these boxes perfectly"
What her colleagues have to say...
Leigh Cleland, Head of Enterprise Risk Capabilities
Right from my first encounter with Kate, I knew she was going to be an asset to our project team. Kate’s unwavering commitment to finding a better way for our customers, both internally and externally is an inspiration. Kate’s natural ability to actively listen to people, gather insights and then really simply solve quite complex problems is a unique art and when combined with Kate’s genuine care for everyone she comes across, every day is brighter when Kate is here!
Clare Butler, Head of Organisational Development
Every now and then you meet someone who you know will make a difference and change the world. Kate is one of those people. Invigorating, incredibly smart, open and trustworthy - Kate has an uncanny ability to draw people into a conversation that then overflows with insights. These are carefully distilled and shared back with such ease and simplicity. A new generation of world changers.
Leah Mackenzie, Design Research Lead
I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with Kate for over 4 years, firstly as my consultant with an external agency and then alongside me at UniSuper. Kate has the ability to not just see the big picture but also the detail – an enviable combination that makes her a brilliant researcher. She has a maturity, intelligence and demeanour beyond her years, exceptional stakeholder management skills and a strong work ethic. Her work is always of a high standard and she goes about it in a considered, thorough and ethical fashion. Oh and did I mention she’s also great fun?!
"Every now and then you meet someone who you know will make a difference and change the world. Kate is one of those people."
Clare Butler, Head of Organisational Development, UniSuper
Q&A with Kate Tilbrook
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The work is constantly changing! No day is the same, and no research project is the same. I love the variety and continually being faced with new challenges - it makes my role motivating and stimulating. Part of this comes from the complex and changeable nature of superannuation as an industry. On top of this, UniSuper is a profit-to-members fund and the work that the Customer Experience team does is focussed on uplifting experiences, so I feel like I'm doing meaningful work. Another great part of my role is that I'm fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented and engaging individuals who I can call my colleagues, team mates and friends.
"The work is constantly changing! No day is the same, and no research project is the same"
What drew you to this line of work?
The best answer to this is simply by pursuing what I love and looking for ways to make a real difference. I don't have a background in finance, but I love problem solving and thinking critically - research ticks these boxes perfectly. My passion for science at university led me to complete my Honours year at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute. Being part of a research group and working towards improving the lives of children was inspiring. From there, I accepted a graduate position at a strategic market research consultancy to further my training in research (just in a different context). UniSuper quickly became one of my clients, and after a couple of years I accepted a role in UniSuper's Research & Insights group. Having collaborated with several UniSuper stakeholders, I was confident it was a place I wanted to work at. It's been one of the best decisions I've ever made.
"I was confident it was a place I wanted to work at. It's been one of the best decisions I've ever made"
What was your very first job?
My first paid role was as a tutor in maths and science with early high school students, which I loved! It was very casual though, so I'd consider my first 'more official' job to be as a Sales Assistant for 2XU. I worked across a couple of stores for three years while studying at university. I was always involved in lots of sporting pursuits growing up, and really enjoyed my conversations in-store with those who had a similar passion for being active - sometimes including professional athletes!
What makes your heart sing?
Spending time with my family and friends, especially if it's spent enjoying the outdoors. And it would be remiss of me not to mention a visit to Haighs!
"[I] grew up believing that I could pursue any career I put my mind to"
Where did you grow up and what was it like? I grew up in an inner-city suburb in Melbourne, close to where I'm living now - I've always loved the area. We lived within a 15 minute drive of my extended family, and within walking distance of both my primary and secondary schools. I loved school, met a great group of friends (who I'm still close with today) and grew up believing that I could pursue any career I put my mind to.
With the benefit of hindsight, what would you tell your young self?
It's okay not to know what you want to be when you grow up. If you work hard and know what you enjoy, the right opportunities will present themselves. Trust your gut!
What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?
Quite a bit, as I'm a private person! One fun fact is that I used to play as a hockey goal keeper throughout school and university. I also sew quilts when I can find some spare time.
Kate at work
Is there someone in your organisation that deserves recognition for going above and beyond? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate your Unsung Hero!