What does your role involve?
I’m involved in the strategic direction of all of the campaigns managed from our Manchester office and still love the day to day of working with clients.
From a company perspective I work with my business partner to develop our staff and grow the business, in each existing location, as well as looking at new opportunities to partner or open dedicated Fourth Day offices elsewhere.
What is it the company does?
Fourth Day's mission is to devise and deliver the best PR, content and communications campaigns to help our clients to achieve their business goals, be they reputation management, lead generation or brand awareness.
Many of our clients are in the business technology sector, but we also work with arts and not-for-profit organisations. With offices in London, Manchester, Paris and Casablanca, we offer an international service and are supported by a network of partners worldwide.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started my PR career in 1996 when I joined a small B2B tech agency in Leicestershire as a graduate account exec. I then moved to a pan-European agency in London which was sold to Fleishman Hillard, part of Omnicom.
I founded Fourth Day London with Xanthe Vaughan Williams in 2002 and we’ve worked closely together ever since. We opened an office in Paris in 2006, followed by Manchester in 2011 and Casablanca in 2015. Next stop, Berlin!
What do you believe makes a great leader?
From a management perspective I think a good leader has to be empathetic and a good listener. They also have to keep focus and understand that the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This means being strong enough to make the difficult decisions and giving people a vision that they can all believe in.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I won’t be unique in saying finding and retaining the best people. There is a massive distinction between good and great. Fourth Day is as great as its people basically – there’s nothing more important than that.
Financially it’s also been challenging to manage our way through more than one recession – but as with most things in life, you learn an awful lot about yourself when you’re in a difficult situation.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
My three kids are a massive distraction from any work stress and they’re my barometer for keeping perspective! So I’d say family, friends, music, running, wine, walking the dog and singing – the order changes depending on my mood.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the next Julie Andrews. Then the next Kate Adie.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Ha, I’m not sure I hate anything really. It is quite stressful when the biscuit tin is allowed to run empty. And I’m not a fan of knuckle cracking which some colleagues are prone to. What is that about?
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I’d like to see our Germany office flourishing and our presence in the US fully established. We want to be able to offer clients all of the benefits of an international agency with the service levels, quality and consistency of a smaller team.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Try to believe in yourself, even when you’re wracked with self-doubt. And you will be, often. It’s how you manage your way through the challenges that counts.
And don’t think you have to tick all of the boxes of a traditional leader. This is not something you can acquire from a text book. If you care about and respect people, believe in what you’re trying to achieve and can attempt to keep a calm head when others may lose theirs then you’ve got what it takes.