Looking back over your career path to date, what would you say are your key qualities that have led to your success?
Commercial acumen – by that I mean understanding the business and what it does, what we’re trying to achieve and getting on with colleagues. You won’t succeed in communications if you can’t build good relationships with the people you’re working with.
Hard work - boring but true. I worked especially hard early on in my career because a job is not the same as school or university. You still have a lot to learn, you are also there to deliver, so you need to commit time.
Adding value – this is really important. Being good at communication is quite a specific skillset and you should always be thinking about what you bring to the table at meetings or when working on projects.
Writing skills – writing is one of my personal strengths, but I think it is a skill that is generally falling away in PR, particularly in-house. It is hugely useful – even, or perhaps especially, for tweets.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given along the way and by whom?
Your salary is the most objective measure of how much a company values you. I haven’t always followed it, and there are plenty of other important measures, but I believe it largely remains true. It was given to me by an ex-boyfriend many years ago – he was an analyst for the NZ treasury.
Seeing as we are still a long way away from closing the gender gap, what advice would you give to women aspiring to high-profile careers?
Stand your ground. Don’t be afraid to base a career on something you actually enjoy doing, you’ll last longer at it. And don’t be trapped into stereotypes – I do not get my kicks by organising other people’s lives, nor am I naturally better at it because I’m a woman.
In one sentence, what is your definition of great PR?
Great coverage and tangible results from a campaign you helped develop and on the flipside, a story that never appeared, because sometimes it’s the absence of column inches that counts.
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge facing the PR industry in the financial services industry over the next 3 years?
The blurring of advertorial and editorial, especially in markets outside the UK where financial services is less dominant. Marketing and PR teams will need to work even more closely together in the future. Misinformation from “non-expert” sources , mostly online, where there is limited governance but potentially enormous reach. (I know that’s two! Pick as you like).
You are a highly experienced team manager having led teams over the years. What would you say is the one thing that makes for a successful and happy team?
A team that both respects each other and likes each other. Every team can say this, but I believe it is particularly important for communications. When you are working on often stressful issues, you have to be able to pull together and to trust each other, while still having fun.
You are working closely with and managing your corporate and financial agency FTI. What would be your best advice on how to get the most out of your agency team?
One of the joys of having an agency is being able to share views with like-minded individuals. Be open and no matter how small the task, give context. I’ve worked on both sides and you will always get a better outcome if you explain not just what you want, but why you want it. In communications, nuance is important.
You are incredibly busy in your professional life, what do you do outside of work to de-stress?
I like to travel, hang out with my friends and see my family when I can. Given they live on the other side of the world they can put a great perspective on things, without being around so long they get annoying.
Thank you very much Angela for taking the time to answer these questions.
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