Square Mile and Me: Emma Kane on building a City institution and her musical past
Each week we ask the City’s movers and shakers to give us a tour of the Square Mile they know. Today, it’s Emma Kane, UK CEO of SEC Newgate and chair of Target Ovarian Cancer
What was your first job?
My first job was as a professional tenor saxophonist but my first role in the City was working at a consultancy that handled communications surrounding most of the Government’s privatisation programme.
When did you know this was the industry for you – and when did you know you might be good at it?
About two weeks into the role I realised the constant factor that effective communications and advocacy play in the equation for determining success or failure in business. Endorsement of my abilities came in 2000 when I set up my own firm and quickly built it to be a leading corporate and financial communications consultancy.
What’s one thing you love about The City of London?
The culture – The Corporation of London is the fourth biggest funder of culture in the UK supporting The Barbican, Museum of London, LSO, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Sculpture in the City, outdoor events…there is a wealth of world class experiences on our doorstep.
… and one thing you’d change?
The level of bureaucracy and structural barriers to investment that exist in the UK Listing Rules in particular around secondary fundraisings. Proposed reforms need to be fast tracked to avoid London losing its attractiveness and competitive edge.
Are you optimistic for the year ahead?
For my own business very, because effective communications and advocacy are critically important for UK plc in good times and bad.
Who’s the City or Business Figure you most admire?
Sonya Branch, General Counsel of the Bank of England and trustee of Target Ovarian Cancer. An extraordinary business leader with a laser focused, brilliant brain, who is always at the epicentre of extraordinary events such as Brexit, Covid, collapse of pound… and yet always makes time for anything important.
What’s your most memorable lunch?
Celebrating being awarded the Freedom of the City in 2017.
What changes have you noticed the most over your 30 years in the City?
Far greater equity – I can’t imagine anyone today experiencing what I did when my then Chairman left a book on their desk entitled ‘How to Dine Out and Lose Weight’ with the inscription “Remember Emma, pile on the profits not the pounds.” It was the catalyst for me to leave and set up my own business though…
And where’s your favourite place in the capital?
The Barbican Centre – it is a cultural oasis in the heart of the City and my spiritual home having spent 9 years as Chair of its Trust.
Where’s home during the week?
Bedford Row in Holborn which is (coincidentally!) a 7-minute walk to my office.
And where might we find you on a Saturday afternoon?
As Chair of Target Ovarian Cancer and Deputy Chair of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, I can usually be found in my study immersed in papers and planning.
You’ve got a well-deserved two weeks off, where are you going?
Two weeks off means it must be the end of the year so sunshine is calling… India is always the number one choice for me and my husband, Ian Rosenblatt.
What is your super-power?
I never get jet lag.