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Katherine Sandford, Executive Chair at UBCO

The dream of becoming a Doctor never quite eventuated, however Katherine Sandford, Executive Chair at UBCO, has instead experienced an exciting career in tech. She has held various leadership positions is a US tech company that has grow from small to rather large in the time she was there, taking her all around the world.

Now back in the sunny Bay of Plenty helping the team at UBCO take their electric utility bikes to the world, we caught up with Katherine to learn a little more about her career journey into tech. She shares more about why now is such an exciting time to be part of the UBCO journey and the people they would love to attract. Thanks for sharing your story, Katherine. 

“I help the boss of an electric motorbike company to build a really great business.”

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I help the boss of an electric motorbike company to build a really great business.

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?

I Chair the Board of UBCO and work closely with the CEO and executive team to scale the business globally.  I’m following my passion for people experience and culture, and am championing UBCO’s strengths-based leadership programme.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in early-stage governance?

That it’s scary and that being a Director of a start-up is high risk. In reality, it’s all about being aligned with the founders on the vision for the company, and having experience and connections that will be useful for the journey they’re headed on.

“I didn’t even know what “tech” was when I was a kid, although ...”

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

I didn’t even know what “tech” was when I was a kid, although I did have a red transistor radio so maybe that counts!  I always wanted to be a doctor.

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at Ubco? 

Even though I didn’t become a Doctor, my first job after university was in a hospital at a time when analogue technology was being transitioned to digital. I was fortunate enough to get involved in testing and selecting new equipment. 

A few years later I got a job working for Trimble, a US technology company. There were about 400 employees and by the time I left in 2014, there were about 7500 and annual revenue was about 20 times more than when I started. 

I lived and worked in Europe, the US, and APAC and held a number of global leadership roles. We developed field and enterprise software as well as hardware for high precision measurement.

After Trimble, I worked for NZTE supporting export businesses - and during that time I met Timothy Allan and became aware of UBCO.  One thing led to another...

“Be open to new opportunities”

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received? 

Be open to new opportunities - those that take you out of your comfort zone will offer the greatest potential for growth.

What do you love about working at Ubco?

I love working with Tim and the team - the collective commitment to building the world’s best utility electric vehicles and providing the best customer experience is infectious.  

Lastly, Ubco continues to grow and evolve, what are the key traits and characteristics of people that will be well placed to work there?

We want passionate people who want to make a difference in the world.  They’ll be open and collaborative, keen to share their ideas, and contribute to building a world-leading business.  Awesome people! Awesome culture! Awesome results!

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