The Charity CEO Podcast


Catharine Brown

CEO Designability: Doing Important Work!

“Despite all the discrimination legislation that exists and despite the equality, diversity and inclusion that we are (all) talking about, the needs of disabled people are not routinely met...”

Catharine Brown is the CEO of Designability, a charity which creates and provides products to enable disabled people to live with greater independence. Catharine joined Designability in 2019 and created a new strategy for the organisation, helping people with primarily physical disabilities with their mobility needs, as well as expanding the charity’s reach.

Before her role at Designability, Catharine’s career has been in two halves – firstly in the commercial sector in marketing and leadership roles for brands including Selfridges, Marks & Spencer and The Economist; and then in the charity sector where she held Interim Director posts for five national charities, as well as provided consultancy services for charities on fundraising, marketing and leadership strategy projects.

Catharine has been a Trustee of the Bath Festivals and has served on the Board of ActionAid UK since 2015.


Ep 16. Catharine Brown, CEO Designability:

Doing Important Work!

From using augmented reality to help dementia patients make a cup of tea, to building electric powered wheelchairs (the Wizzybug!) for physically disabled children, Designability creates practical products to enable disabled people live with greater independence.

Catharine Brown, CEO of Designability, shares with us her charity’s work to improve the lives of the UK’s 14 million disabled people. Creating products based on principles of Design Thinking, the organisation puts the needs of disabled people at the centre of the user experience.

We talk about the leadership challenges and benefits of flexible working in a post-COVID world.

Catharine shares her personal experiences encountering in-flexible working practices as a young mother and how even today the ‘motherhood penalty’ still affects women and their career choices.

However, that certainly did not deter Catharine in her pursuit of doing ‘important work’.

Recorded March 2021.

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