Q&A with the CEO of MKM Building Supplies, Kate Tinsley

Kate Tinsley is the CEO of MKM Building Supplies, and one of the driving forces behind the #YesSheCan campaign. Having been in the construction industry for circa 20 years, she has faced some barriers in her personal and professional life. See what she had to say when we took her in for a Q&A session!


Tell us about your current role?

I am currently CEO of MKM Building Supplies. We are a national builders merchant serving everyone from a one person firm up to the national house builders. I am new in post but have worked in the construction industry for circa 20 years.

Give us an idea of how your normal day pans out…

No day is the same. I get up reasonably early and send and answer emails before travelling to my meetings for the day. I spend a lot of time in branches, with customers, and also with our internal teams. There are also a lot of phone calls during the day!

How do you ensure that you are an inspiring leader?

I do my best to treat people the way that I would want to be treated. I’m honest, hardworking and care about the business and all of the people in it.

What would you say to your 16 year old self?

Ignore the doubters, chase every opportunity & party less (it catches up with you!).

What barriers have you faced in your career? 

I work in the construction industry which is heavily male orientated. When I was younger I was always questioned if I was tough enough to handle it. I, therefore, felt I had to continuously prove myself to a greater extent than my male counterparts.

What is your motivation to keep going?

My family, my desire to succeed and my drive to be independent.

What do you think we need to do to break down barriers in the workplace?

We need to educate that being a successful leader doesn’t mean that your characteristics have to fit into a box. We also need to promote a culture of equality and ensure that we understand what is holding people from minority groups back.

Who are your inspirations in life?

Nelson Mandela, my Mum & Dad, my Niece.

What advice would you give to young females starting their careers?

To be brave, go after what you want and don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t equal.

What’s great about being a female in your role?

I bring a different dynamic to what is a very male-dominated industry. I think about things in a different way. Hopefully, this means that I can be a role model for other females. I also feel that I can influence change positively when it comes to diversity.

Why is #YesSheCan important to you?

Because I want my 10-year-old niece to have career aspirations which aren’t inhibited in any way by her gender.

Do you think that diversity can help an organisation?

Yes, absolutely. All statistics point to diverse organisations being more successful because it means that there are different perspectives on key decisions and the business is more representative of its customer base.

What are your biggest achievements?

Being asked to be an ambassador for #YesSheCan.
Winning an “Inspire” leadership award in 2018.

What do you think the most important skills are in your role in order to be successful?

Work ethic – there is no substitute for it. Hard work will always beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard.
Resilience – you will get knocked down throughout your career and you have to keep getting up.
Staying true to yourself – be the best version of you, not a version someone else wants you to be. Being authentic is key.
Finally, always treat people the right way.

How do you feel about being a positive role model?


How do you maintain a work-life balance?

With great difficulty. I’m obsessive about work and it’s something I have to work hard at and don’t often get it right!

What are your key career motivators?

Family and also the challenge of the job. Im easily bored so need to be in a role that pushes me.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

I don’t have a specific role or title I want to achieve, I just want to be in roles that are challenging and where I can make a genuine difference to the people in an organisation.

What inspired you when you were starting your career?

Wanting to be successful and people believing in me. I was given some big roles at a relatively young age because someone had the belief that I could succeed regardless of my age.

How did you get to the position you are now?

I do what I say I’m going to do via a lot of hard work!. Therefore, I’ve always been relied upon to deliver. I’ve also made sure that I have worked for people that believed in me and who I could learn from and develop under.

Why did you choose the construction industry?

When I was training to be an accountant I worked with some people within the construction industry and I really enjoyed it, it’s a very straight talking industry with down to earth people which suits my style

What was your first job?

A paper round! I was only 11 or 12, so when it was dark my mum used to make my dad walk around with me early in the morning!
As well as Kate, we have many inspiring women who are also bringing us amazing content. You can find more here, also check out our jobs here.

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