How and why did you decide to go into communications?
Like many people, I went to university unsure of what kind of career I wanted to pursue. I dabbled in a few sectors through internships, but it wasn’t until I interned with a communications consultancy that I found something that felt right for me.
Communications in financial services presents its own specific challenges depending on what you’re trying to say, which audience you are trying to speak to and how you actually reach them. The way we communicate with each other is constantly evolving, which means that we as communications professionals are always learning and adapting. The discipline has already changed a fair bit since I started my career!
How have you found the return to the office over the last few months?
I’ve always seen the benefits of the occasional day of working from home, though, like everyone else, I never expected it to become a (temporary) full-time affair! The time and energy saved from not commuting leaves space for greater work/life balance, whether that means having more time to cook dinner, exercise, or to self-study.
That being said, there is nothing that can replace face-to-face interaction with colleagues and clients, so I enjoy having the flexibility to work from both home and the office. As great as technology is in allowing us to keep in touch via video calls, nothing beats being able to spontaneously start conversations with colleagues. Being in the office also enables us to organically learn from each other ideas constantly being bounced around.
What areas or trends interest you the most at this time?
The world of pensions is a passion of mine, whether it’s from a consumer perspective, or that of an asset manager or asset owner. In fact, in 2019 I joined NextGen, the industry body which promotes new talent in pensions, and I sit on its media and comms subcommittee.
The future of pensions is really exciting. Many workers today will never experience DB schemes and therefore need to be more engaged with their savings and investments. Moreover, we are seeing a large drive from this group towards sustainability as climate change concerns grow. Meanwhile, trustee boards are evolving to become more representative of their scheme’s members, and the industry itself needs to continue improving on diversity and inclusion.
All of these themes, and more, need to be communicated in a compelling way and through channels that aim to reach all target audiences. Just as the industry itself is changing, the way it communicates must develop too.
What do you do in your spare time?
Outside of work I’ll often hit the “rock gym”. When things started opening back up again some friends and I took up bouldering (indoor rock climbing). It’s a really challenging sport where you not only have to have the physical strength and flexibility to climb and the mental fortitude to push through the fear of falling, but it’s also a bit of a puzzle to figure out the best route to the top.
While you climb solo, it’s often a collaborative process and it’s great to work with others on a tricky climb, trying ideas for routes and techniques.
Tell us about the last book you read or the last podcast you listened to?
I picked up the reading bug again ever since I read “Pandora’s Jar” by Natalie Haynes which questions how women were treated in Greek mythology, for example, does Pandora really deserve the blame for what happens with the jar? (It’s not a box in the earliest versions of the story as it turns out…)
More recently, I adored reading “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller, which explores the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus in an interesting retelling of Homer’s “Iliad”.
Greek mythology has captured my imagination since childhood and it’s always fascinating to see how these stories have persisted over the millennia, and how they evolve with new iterations.
Tip: If anyone reading is looking for a light-hearted, fun podcast on Greek and Roman mythology, I recommend “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby”.
Name one goal, professional or personal, you have set yourself for the rest of the year
Earlier this year I started learning Japanese with an online tutor. As a linguist, I find learning languages a rich and rewarding experience – it’s particularly gratifying when you can start to understand things without subtitles! Taking the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) has not been possible due to the pandemic, but it’s something that I would like to pursue later, so I’ll be working towards that.
Languages are extremely useful in our line of work, and I regularly use French to speak with media contacts in the French-speaking world. Who knows, perhaps I’ll start speaking to the Japanese media and/or clients too!