How our new MD gets outside her bubble


We’ve got some exciting things happening in 2023 – from new clients to new faces around the business. But our big focus is the Keep Left Sydney office, which has been picking up pace.  

Leading the team in Sydney is our new Managing Director – Katarina (Kata) Farrell. Kata brings a wealth of knowledge to our agency and has hit the ground running during her first few weeks as a Leftie. Below she shares her thoughts on challenging your own beliefs, consuming information and growing our Sydney offering.  


Tell us about your background  

I’ve always worked in PR. After uni, I started as a communications graduate at Telstra and spent about five or six years there. It was at a really interesting time when they were really shaking things up – being combative with the government at a time when CEOs weren’t typically like that, and 3G had just launched (if you can believe it!). I was involved in doing PR around that, as well as for all of Telstra’s sponsorship and marketing properties.  

Then I made a conscious decision in my late 20s to change course to an agency career. I was quite strategic about it and did the opposite of what most people do, and went from in-house to agency. In 2010 I started working for an agency called N2N Communications. 

I was there for nearly 13 years and helped grow the company from 13 people to 65. Publicis Communications acquired us in 2017 and we became Herd MSL.  


Where did you grow up?  

I grew up in Newcastle, NSW, in a house with a big backyard. I have a little sister who is an emergency nurse – we’re 9 years apart.  


What’s a topic you’re obsessed with at the moment? 

History. I’m a massive podcast listener, as well as a curator and collector of random information. Lately, I’ve been listening to The Rest is History and You’re Wrong About. I also love fashion and follow all the fashion weeks in Europe and the States.  

I am a super curious person. I love reading and learning, I like listening to stuff that has depth and connects the dots between things in the world or cultural events.  


How do you consume news and content? 

I go to quite traditional sources – but all online. I read The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Daily Oz on Instagram, I listen to Triple J and ABC radio. I also love Cheek for the way it makes me think.  


How do you deal with opposing opinions? 

I’m a pretty direct person. I’m not scared to share my opinions and often I have a strong point of view. But at the end of the day, I feel strongly about treating people with respect, listening to others and putting yourself in their shoes. 


Why is it important to look at a brief from many perspectives? 

Life is interesting and exciting because people have different points of view, so I think this applies to the work we do too. In my experience, the best ideas are those that have been stress tested and turned over by people who bring different perspectives to the table.  


How do you challenge your own beliefs or opinions? 

I chat to different people. When you’ve had a long career in an industry – you have a diverse range of people you can call on. When I get a brief, I talk to people I’ve worked with over the years and try and lean into their opinions or experiences. 

My husband is a tradie. We’re quite different people in many ways and I think that in itself is quite grounding for me. He’s a great BS monitor. 

And of course, through travel and new experiences. I’ve done three months in South America, climbed mountains in Chile and been to weddings in India. Travel can give you really valuable perspectives and insights.  


Do you have an outlet? 

I love pilates and long walks outdoors in the fresh air, ideally by the water. For me, family and friends are the core of who I am. I love spending time with them and that’s always been a massive outlet. I love learning new things, good food and coffee, and looking for a great Tommy’s Margarita!  


If you could learn more about any topic, what would it be? 

I am fascinated with what makes people tick, human behaviour, and in the context of our work, what shifts behaviours – so I would definitely like to do some formal study in psychology. Maybe next year! 


What excites you most about your new role?  

I love the way Keep Left develops its creative ideas and strategies – the team is hugely talented and there’s a lot of depth behind the Ideas People Choose mission. I’m really looking forward to getting out and catching up with brands, PRs and marketers in the context of my new role. There’s also a massive opportunity to work with the Sydney team to build our own Sydney version of the Keep Left culture, with our own work, rituals and fun, which is really exciting.