CAREERS: How I Got Here - Kate Summerside, head of communications, Mental Health Media

What was your first job?

I worked at Lynne Franks PR in 1991. It seemed incredibly glamorous on the surface but behind the glossy image was a lot of hard work, long hours, 110 per cent commitment and dedicated professionalism.

What does your current role involve? I oversee both Mental Health Media's internal and external communications. We work with all media to promote the often unheard voice of mental health service users. Our activities include the production and sale of multi-media and our annual awards.

I also manage our communications consultancy, Media Bureau.

Roughly outline your career path? I worked in PR agencies in the private sector for about five years, and then in 1996 a period of mental ill health interrupted my career. Although not a happy time, it proved to be a positive turning point because it gave me time and space to do what I'd always wanted to do which was work in the voluntary sector. First I worked at Daycare Trust and then I joined RNIB. Three years later I moved to Mental Health Media where I was made head of communications last June.

What training or course has most enhanced your career?

A course on Moving Into Management at the Centre for Strategy and Communication was very helpful. I've also been fortunate to work with some inspiring people in two sectors.

What is your biggest career achievement?Becoming the head of communications was a great achievement and made a tough journey worthwhile.

What's your advice for people starting out in the sector? Keep well informed about what is going on and who is doing what.

Are there any other charities you support financially, or with time?

I've advised Indigo (Hampshire) about PR and marketing, and I sponsor a dog called Deana at the National Canine Defence League.

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