An adaptable and unflappable problem solver, Victoria Buchanan advises on corporate, M&A, restructure, leadership change, legal, crisis comms and strategic PR approaches at global real estate services provider Savills. Victoria explains how she and her colleagues tackled challenges presented by the global pandemic and shares her advice on building a successful comms team.
1. Please can you give a brief overview of your background and experience.
I completed an English and Sociology degree, arrived in London and undertook various temping roles to gain experience in different sectors. I ended up working in Building Services Engineering in the PR team (which was actually a business pitch team), moved to the press office of Richard Rogers Partnership (as it was then called) and finally in a drive to find something quicker paced and more city focused ended up in what was then the Savills commercial business through a secondment from a niche PR Agency. Whilst at my first job I undertook a PR course in the evenings but largely my experience has been gained on the job, and no better way to build knowledge than when in the hot seat!
2. You were responsible for building the award-winning comms team at Savills. What is the secret ingredient of a successful comms team?
Align with the business as closely as you can, innovate and evolve, enjoy close working relationships with colleagues, clients, stakeholders and journalists, be reliable and personable.
3. The commercial property sector has been undeniably impacted by the global pandemic. What challenges did this present for you and your team over the past 2 years?
Many of the challenges that were presented by the pandemic had been underlying in the markets but were arguably accelerated. We were fortunate that our business had already established teams in many of these spaces such as reimaging retail and occupier services, and so we were then able to lead the narrative that would both inform and engage with our stakeholders in a time of uncertainty.
4. What would you say are your three key attributes that contributed to your career success?
I am interested in and understand the needs of our stakeholders against a wider economic backdrop so I can make our communications relevant.
I enjoy problem solving in the context of a complex and diverse business.
I will adapt my communications style or approach to get the best out of those I work with.
5. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far?
Undoubtedly we have experienced many challenges thrown up by Covid from helping support team members at a time of remote working to adapting our communications for our external stakeholders. The challenge is ongoing.
6. What is your most memorable work moment?
When I worked for architects Richard Rogers, the entire firm were taken to see a project under construction or nearing completion. We visited Madrid airport one year and had a party at the terminal when the basic structure was in place but it was otherwise empty and seemed so vast. I always recall it when I travel there in my current job, I really appreciated seeing the project as it was being developed.
7. What is your most important lesson you have learned in life so far?
Never think you’ve cracked it! This is in the context of being a working mum, take it in stages or phases.
8. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given along the way, and by whom?
Find a job that makes you happy because if you work in an area you enjoy and are interested in, you will succeed. I think many people would give this advice but it’s important to make it happen!
9. If you hadn’t ended up working in comms, what was your plan B?
A few people I have worked with have suggested I should have been a lawyer.
10. Do you have any hidden talents?
Keeping calm in the face of crisis.
Thank you, Victoria.
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