Fairygodboss Of The Week: Katie Burke

Katie Burke

Katie Burke

Katie Burke

April 12, 2024 at 11:48PM UTC
Katie Burke is helping to make HubSpot, one of the fast-growing companies out there, build a strong foundation of culture and the best talent around. Katie is committed to helping women within her company and throughout the world.

Fairygodboss of the Week: Katie Burke
Chief People Officer - HubSpot
Boston, MA

FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?

KB: I was a Liberal Arts major (American Studies specifically), so everything in the business world sounded exciting to me, but I wasn't sure exactly where I was going to end up or what I wanted to do long-term. For me, the pivotal moments of my career so far have been:
  • Joining a startup: I  joined a small agency with big aspirations in D.C. and ended up working there for three years and doing a little bit of everything. I fell in love with the adrenaline and collaboration of startup life, and figured out then that I needed to be doing work that had a creative element to it and that I loved working for mission-driven organizations.
  • Going to business school: The jury is out on business school for a lot of people, but for me going to MIT changed my perspective and my career. It gave me a great network and an incredible experience, along with the confidence to ask tough questions and challenge the status quo.
  • Joining HubSpot: I started at my current company, HubSpot, four years ago, and I still feel lucky every single day when I walk in the door. I think the key to a great career is finding people you like working with and problems you like solving, then identifying a company that helps you do those things while challenging you to grow. I've been lucky to have all three--if you're in the right job you should learn something every day you're there.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

KB: Helping other people grow--I love coaching people and seeing them succeed and thrive. There's no more rewarding feeling. After that, it was working on HubSpot's initial public offering--the process was demanding, challenging, and exciting in the best way possible.

FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

KB: My younger brother Brendan passed away in a car accident in 2010. I'm from a big, tight-knit family, and he was an incredible brother, person, and friend, so his loss is something we still feel to this day. I think grief teaches you to appreciate deeply what you have, to take things one day at at a time, and that you're tougher and stronger than you know.
Lightning Round:

FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?

KB: Working out keeps me centered and focused, especially when things are really hectic at work. I love barre and spin, but I also bring my running shoes when I travel so I can see new places and feel at home even on the road.

I also watch an embarrassing amount of Bravo TV and read as much as possible.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?

KB: Marian Wright Edelman of the National Children's Defense Fund. She's been my personal hero for years. The work she's done on behalf of children is remarkable, and she's smart, accomplished, and broke down barriers for both women and African-Americans--I'm in awe of her accomplishments and impact, so I'd love to dine with her.

FGB: What is your karaoke song?

KB: Livin' on a Prayer used to be my staple, but it's been awhile....

FGB: What is your favorite movie?

KB: Love Actually, any time of year.

FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?

KB: To Kill a Mockingbird, I'm a Scout fan always and forever.

FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?

KB: Draper James. Reese Witherspoon created a line as cool and spunky as she is, and I want everything in their store. If I won the lottery, I'd buy a Cape House and try to spend as much time with my family there as humanly possible.

FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?

KB: My grandmother is an 84 year-old real estate agent, former school psychologist, and recreational gambler. She's one of the most interesting and dynamic people I know. She taught me to ask for forgiveness instead of permission, to trust your gut about people, to be a good friend, and to ask for what you want -- all lessons that have paid huge dividends for me personally and professionally.  I'm incredibly grateful to her for that and so much more.

FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share?

KB: Raise your hand for the hard stuff. You don't get the career you want by only taking on projects when you're asked or taking the easy route. When someone at work has a messy, hairy problem that needs solving, raise your hand for it -- any industry or career path rewards people who dare to do big things and do them well.


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