Skip to content

IWD 2024: Meet Katrina Bassett, Chief Operating Officer


Katrina Basset, Chief Operating Officer, explains her thoughts on how businesses can be more inclusive

Catalyst are strong supporters of diversity in the IT sector. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024, we are sharing insights into some of the amazing women who work at Catalyst and learning what IWD means to them.

Meet Katrina Bassett, Chief Operating Officer at Catalyst.

Tell us about your career journey:

I never expected a career in technology. I started in the not-for-profit sector as a researcher for International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and then at Refugee and Migrant Service, a refugee resettlement agency.

I returned to university in my late 20s and did a postgraduate diploma in computer science. The Internet was barely a thing. I was lucky to get my first IT job as a developer at The Web, one of the very first web development companies. The Web was sold to KPMG Consulting, and after a couple of years there, I took a job at Catalyst as a developer.

In 20 years, I've had a lot of different roles – developer, project manager, solution architect, team lead, general manager. It's a great thing about Catalyst that people are not tied to a fixed career path.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

People have asked why we still celebrate International Women's Day – surely women have 'made it' now? I grew up in the 80s, a time of significant social change. The Springbok tour, our anti-nuclear legislation, and the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill all happened in the space of a few years.

I was a feminist then (I still am), and at the time, it was a common opinion that women's rights were a thing of the past. Despite so-called legal equality, women had limited control over their reproductive rights, many occupations were not open to women, and there was an unhealthy broad opinion that victims of sexual violence generally 'asked for it.' Through the lens of the 80s, our world has changed significantly, and much of the mainstream opinion is now inconceivable, but that doesn't mean there isn't a long way to go.

Without acknowledgement of inequity, not just for women but for all social minorities, nothing changes. International Women's Day is a celebration of those who came before and made sacrifices that resulted in me having opportunities they didn't have. It is also a challenge to us to advocate for ourselves and future generations, to care for each other, and to demand fair treatment.

The International Women's Day theme in 2024 is Inspire Inclusion. What do you do personally, or what do you think businesses can do to create a better culture reflecting this?

Everyone has something to offer and a right to be heard and treated with respect, even people you disagree with. At the moment, our culture is awash with adversarial, polarising politics. Don't fall for it.

What is the biggest change you have seen in your career supporting inclusion?

Catalyst is a very different place from the one I started at 20 years ago, which was overwhelmingly male, both in proportion and culture. There's been a huge change with regard to inclusion across the board to make us a much less homogeneous place.

Catalyst has always provided flexible working arrangements and does a lot to support people with what's happening in their lives. This includes people with families but also those with other needs. While this doesn't seem particularly revolutionary these days, it's a huge help to plan around school pickups/drop-offs and take time off as needed.

What's one thing you hope to see change in the future to help empower more women in the workforce?

  • We still have a significant pay gap and a glass ceiling.
  • Pay equity for predominantly female roles.

What one thing are you most proud of in your life?

Admitting I didn't know what I was doing and going back to retrain in a predominantly (teenage) male environment as an adult student. That decision completely changed my life.

What's one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Social change takes time. Stand up for what you believe, but understand that people are a product of their time and place. Just because they don't agree or don't understand, it doesn't make them bad or mean they can't change.