8 March, 2024
Empowering Voices: A Journey of Inclusion and Leadership for International Women’s Day 2024 with Catherine Rouse
For International Women’s Day 2024, the theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion.’ We sat down with one of our most recently appointed female partners within the business, Catherine Rouse, to discuss her journey to recently becoming a partner, her business experience and how she inspires inclusion among people within the Maris Interiors team.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and share your role at Maris Interiors, as well as your tenure with the company?

A: My name is Catherine Rouse, and I’ve been with Maris for ten years. I currently serve as a Senior Furniture Consultant and Partner.

Q: Can you describe your journey at Maris, from your initial role to your current responsibilities?

A: I began in the Furniture Team as a Junior Consultant, primarily handling smaller projects and day two works. Over time, I transitioned to working with the main business, overseeing projects of varying scales.

Q: Can you recall any significant milestones or challenges you faced during your tenure?

A: One challenge was ensuring that furniture was seen as an integral part of the project rather than an add-on service. This required early involvement in client meetings and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle.

Q: How do you believe your experiences and perspectives as a female leader have contributed to the success of the business?

A: As a woman at Maris, I think the challenge is to feel like you add value and to not have imposter syndrome.  One of the things I try to do within my team, especially with some of the younger women is to give them really positive feedback when deserved and to also reflect honestly and say, that didn’t work this time but how can we do it better the next. Providing constructive feedback and celebrating wins has been crucial.

Q: Can you share a meaningful experience you’ve had with mentorship, and how it has impacted your professional journey as a female partner within our business?

A: Tania, who leads the Furniture Team, has been a mentor figure for me, guiding my leadership style. Through her mentorship, I’ve learnt how to lead, and I’ve been able to enhance team collaboration and integrate furniture considerations early in projects. She makes sure to challenge me and has supported me to have the tools so that I can now offer that same sort of mentorship to people on my team.

Q: What advice do you have for women aspiring to leadership roles within the company or the industry?

A: It’s essential to believe in your knowledge and capabilities, seeking out resources and learning opportunities as needed. If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask questions, find people that do know and make sure that you learn every single element of your role and other people’s roles. The more you know, the better you’re going to do. Confidence and continuous learning are key.

Q: Are there specific qualities or skills you believe are crucial for navigating and excelling in a male-dominated field like ours?

A: Thick skin and resilience are essential, especially for younger women facing scepticism or doubt. When I first started I really felt that way, I had to know every single detail otherwise people wouldn’t believe what I was saying or question what I was saying. It’s been a journey getting to where I am now. Confidence in one’s abilities and a commitment to continuous improvement are also crucial.

Q: How do you view the significance of International Women’s Day in the business context?

A: The theme of Inspiring Inclusion is a great concept because including other people, different mindsets, diversity, different skill sets really improves everything. When you get a different perspective, you’re bound to be more successful in business and in life, and it’s great to have a really inclusive environment. At Maris, we’ve had so many women come up recently, we have more Design Directors that are female than male which is fantastic. All the Senior Furniture Consultants are female and we even have female Technical Leads. It’s a real win.

In celebrating International Women’s Day 2024 with the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ our discussions with two recently promoted female Partners, Beth Graham, and Catherine Rouse, have shed light on their remarkable journeys within Maris Interiors and their efforts to foster inclusion within our team. Beth and Catherine’s stories serve as a testament to the power of inclusivity in driving success. Their leadership and contributions have paved the way for a more inclusive environment within Maris Interiors, where diverse perspectives are celebrated and valued. With more female leaders emerging within our team, we are committed to fostering an environment where everyone can thrive.