What’s that you’re reading? – Kate Timms – Head of Marketing & Admissions


What are you reading at the moment?

Invariably I have about 8 books and a kindle on the go at any one time – I love books, and reading. I enjoy almost every genre, from educational to escapism, with newspapers and academic articles thrown in for good measure. I love books that make me think – it could be education related, travel, health and fitness, or something like ‘Think Like a Monk’ in the hope I might eventually learn how to chill out!  I just wish I had a bit more time to read – working at Downsend, having two young children, and a 15 week old puppy is in no way conducive to my dream to sit in a cosy armchair and read a stack of books with no distractions!

The book I’m spending the most time with at the moment is ‘School of Life: An Emotional Education’. I find Alain de Botton a fascinating character – both witty and deep at the same time. He has a way of distilling complex issues elegantly. The book is a series of short articles, each focusing on the skills we’ll need to thrive in the modern world. This one in particular is all about the importance of emotional intelligence – which is why I love it, because it feels like this is a skill that has been over-looked for so many years and one that is such a part of the conversation at Downsend.

Please share your favourite quote or short extract from the book.

“The assumption is that emotional insight might be either unnecessary or unteachable. We are left to find our own path around our unfeasibly complicated minds – a move as striking (and as wise) as suggesting that each generation should rediscover the laws of physics by themselves”

Is there a particular genre of book you find yourself drawn to?

If I’m reading a novel, it could literally be anything – I do love anything by Douglas Kennedy for a bit of escapism. I have an English Language degree so I find the way he writes so incredibly beautiful, and the story-telling can be uplifting or thoughtful – either way, I love a book I can get lost in. Wherever the setting – Maine or Paris or Egypt –  his writing is so evocative, you can only imagine you are there.

Do you read to your children? What is your favourite children’s book? Did you have a favourite book or author, growing up?

I  try and read to my children every night, who are 7 and 9, and have a surprising love of anything by Enid Blyton. I gobbled up her books as a child, so it’s lovely to share their old fashioned innocence – even my nearly 10 year old son enjoys the tales of the Faraway Tree and Buttercup Farm. Code Name Bananas by David Walliams is the current bed time book. It’s an amusing tale – but set in WWII, so subconsciously they’re picking up facts alongside anecdotes about a gorilla in a wedding dress.

Kate, what’s the next book that you’d like to read?

I can’t wait to get started on a book recommended to me by Vanessa Conlan, who always has an awesome reading list – ‘The Missing Piece, the essential skills that education forgot’. Before I came to Downsend, I worked in Higher Education for 15 years, 9 of those for one of the world’s leading business schools, where I saw highly qualified young people join us with what were deemed the ‘best’ qualifications. Our entry requirements were the highest in the country, higher than Oxbridge, but I saw time and time again, young people who knew how to pass exams, but struggled with real life, with taking a problem and really understanding how to solve it, in a team. I was at Cass Business School during the 2008 banking crisis and I saw a fundamental shift in the skills taught to graduates destined for careers in Investment Banks – to move to teaching ethics, responsibility, sustainability and governance – which is why I’m excited to read this book by Tom Ravenscroft which pieces it all together to focus on skills as well as subjects. Maybe I’ll get to read it in my cosy armchair with no distractions and a glass of something…….maybe….!



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