To Dubai for today’s Sovereign Story where we catch up with Kathryn Horsfield, the Office & Administration Manager. We were keen to discover her story and wanted to find out more about the recent project integrating Sovereign and PPG staff into one office.

Proud to be born and raised in Yorkshire, Kathryn’s story begins in Bradford almost 65 years ago. She went on to study for her secretarial administration certificate at Bradford College. She demonstrated early on her penchant for going the extra mile by specialising in medical secretarial work.

On the day Kathryn passed her driving test, David entered her life. The couple met in 1976 and despite his being from Lancashire, they married five years later – and are still going strong! Kathryn recalls that “twelve men” accompanied her on honeymoon to Orkney. We were intrigued until she explained that David had timed the wedding to coincide with a pre-booked trip by Halifax’s British Sub Aqua Club.

Although a keen snorkeler, Kathryn did not share David’s passion for scuba. His losing a contact lens on honeymoon and breaking a leg on another trip meant Kathryn had to drive home on both occasions. The final such trip saw recent mum Kathryn holed up in a caravan in Anglesey whilst everyone else was out diving. Not a surprise to learn there were no more such diving holidays.

These days, the Horsfields are proud parents to daughter Kate, a director at Deloitte in Dubai and Doha-based son Thomas who is a training officer at Qatar Airways whilst beautiful 2½-year-old granddaughter Lily completes the family.

After college, Kathryn’s first job was at the Bradford Health Authority as PA to the Area Pharmaceutical Officer. After two years, she spent a further eight working with surgeons and gynaecologists at the Bradford Teaching Hospital. She reflects on her early work experience with affection although things were rather more formal where first names were most definitely not used.

David’s job as a communications engineer necessitated a move to Nuneaton in the late 1980s where the couple stayed until 1993. A further move “back north” saw them settle in Culcheth near Warrington where they lived for a further three years. Their travels continued and the next move was to Wokingham in 1996.

Until this point, Kathryn had continued to work in the health sector but a dearth of hospitals in the Wokingham area forced her to change direction. Her next job was PA to the CEO at a contract catering company. She also became Office Manager, taking to the wider responsibility readily. Kathryn recalls the “fab food” available as well as client dinners and other events. We are sure she did not mean to drop a name when she said that a day at Henley Regatta was one of her favourites!

In 2003, the couple made their last UK move back home to Yorkshire. Kathryn re-joined the same clinic she had left in 1997. She remembers that the place, job and most of the people seemed to her to be the same as the day she left – although she had certainly changed.

By now, David had decided to take early retirement and after much planning, the Horsfields moved to their dream home in Cyprus. When considering her next career move, David suggested that people could work from home. With a decent internet connection available, Kathryn successfully lobbied the clinic to allow her to do so from Cyprus, doing this for seven years. Considered radical at the time, “WFH” as a way of working is now commonplace but Kathryn was a true pioneer in those early days.

The Middle East was calling. Daughter Kate was living in Dubai and in May 2013 she invited Kathryn to visit for a holiday. As the phrase puts it, “she never went back”. David split his time between Cyprus and the UAE initially, moving permanently in 2017.

Kathryn joined Sovereign in 2014 as PA to the Managing Director, adding the office management role a year later. Despite her wider responsibilities across the whole office these days, she continues to provide PA support to the current MD and remotely to Group Director Nick Cully.

In May 2022, Sovereign completed its largest acquisition to date, buying Pro Partner Group (PPG) that doubled the overall Dubai staff complement to around sixty.

Kathryn explains that prior to the acquisition, Sovereign Dubai was not fully occupying the entire 6,200 square feet of office space available at its 26th floor location. Moving PPG staff into the same place seemed obvious but the logistics were daunting. Kathryn took charge: the office closed and the contractors moved in whilst staff worked remotely for those few weeks.

A full renovation was required from floor to ceiling. The completion target date was 2 February 2023, which was missed by 24 hours. The delay was entirely due to disruption caused by unexpected rainstorms. The project was on time, on budget and excellently managed for which Kathryn has been highly praised.

The couple live with Kate and Lily in the prestigious Dubai Hills district and Kathryn spends a great deal of her free time doting on her granddaughter. She is an avid swimmer and gets in the water as much as possible.

Kathryn ended our delightful conversation saying, “…don’t even think of using the “retirement” word when I am around. For me it is not an option, I love my work too much”. Sovereign in Dubai benefits as a result and we wish her continued success in the future. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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