Bold Girl Catch Up: Kate Bright

Posted: 21st March 2024

At our 2022 Founders’ Day celebrations we were lucky enough to be joined by Bold Girl Kate Bright who gave us all an inspirational talk. Kate is a Chartered Security Professional and has worked in the Private Security Industry for over 20 years. We were delighted to catch up with her again recently to discuss her time at the school and how it has shaped her into the person she is today.

Tell us about your time at Burgess Hill Girls

I was a student at Burgess Hill Girls, or Burgess Hill School For Girls as it was called then, from 1990 to 1997. I joined as a music scholar, but I was also involved in a lot of sport including netball, lacrosse, and hockey. The former head teacher, Mrs Laybourn, was my PE teacher. I became a house captain for Yates house, and we used to win everything to be honest! The school has changed quite a bit since then – back in the nineties we used to have carrel desks (essentially a booth!), and mine was probably covered in Take That posters…

The best thing about being at the school was that I was exposed to so many new things that I really enjoyed, such as learning languages. Burgess Hill Girls gave me so many different exciting opportunities and I really value that. My time at the school was unbelievable and I made friends with people that I am still close with today.

Kate as a student at Burgess Hill Girls.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

There were certainly parts of my time at school when I was trying to work out what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be when I grew up. I was unsure of my vocation, but I knew that I wanted to continue doing things that I really enjoyed. I was certain that sports and languages were going to remain a big part of my life, and I knew that I needed to continue working hard regardless. It was inspiring to be in an environment surrounded by friends who were clearly going to become amazing teachers and doctors. I got an offer to read French and Management at Royal Holloway, University of London, so I knew that business would be intertwined in my working life in some capacity.

Where has life taken you since school? Have you always worked in the security sector?

When I left Royal Holloway I worked as a PA in television. I then ended up working in the Family Office sector, which is where my journey into the security industry began. The clients were extremely high profile, so I had to manage security for them, and then ultimately trained in physical security and became a Chartered Security Professional from there.

Tell us about founding your own company! Was this always a goal?

Although I was recently nominated for an award at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, I would not necessarily call myself an entrepreneur, more like an accidental business owner!

The lightbulb moment for the business, UMBRA International Group, happened when I qualified and started working in Close Protection, the technical term for bodyguarding. I noticed the rise of cyber and digital risk which made me realise there was a need for a more holistic security service. Things have developed rapidly from there.

What was it like giving a Ted Talk?

I was a stand in for someone who had gone off sick, so I only had 2 weeks notice and it was terrifying. I think if I knew how terrifying it was going to be I probably wouldn’t have agreed to do it, but now I look back at it as defining moment of my career, and it certainly helped to raise the profile of the business, and I met some other amazing speakers that day that I am still in touch with.

Kate speaking at a TED Talk.

How did the school help you get to where you are now?

Burgess Hill Girls exposed me to so many different things, from music, to sport, to languages. Any opportunity I was given I took. It gave me a strong work ethic and the courage to aim high and do things to the best of my ability. It was a high-performance environment which is similar to my field of work today.

What advice would you give to our current students?

I would say to current students to immerse yourself in as many different things as you can. Certainly, for me a lot of my biggest inspiration has come from being part of an active community. It is important to think about how you can give back. Part of our business is impact oriented and I feel happy that we are going to leave behind a legacy. I see a lot of people, as they grow up, lose their sense of purpose. If you can try to figure out what is important to you as early as you can and start to help others, it is an effective way to find your own way.

Do not be afraid if you do not know what you want to do because I was one of those people. I always say there is a business inside of everybody. Everyone has something that they can sell, whether it is a service or a product, and everyone experiences something that could be done better, or a problem that they could solve.

I like to talk about having a three-pronged attack. Firstly, continuous professional development, working in the security industry, I am always doing things to continue learning, I did my advance driver training last year which was really good fun. Secondly, networking, both in person and online, LinkedIn is an important part of my business journey. And finally, looking after your mental and physical health. When I came to Founders’ Day, I spoke about the importance of looking within yourself and looking after yourself. It is something that has stood me in good stead running the business. Look after yourself and the rest, as they say, is history!