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March 8, 2021

International Women’s Day – Women in communications

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Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a day to celebrate all of our inspiring, female colleagues in our international offices. We pride ourselves on our commitment to equality where we are dedicated to supporting women from all backgrounds, and increasing the number of roles in leadership, with 46 per cent of our senior team members being women.

To celebrate IWD we asked some of our senior female colleagues a few questions around their experiences which led to some inspiring and motivating advice for others. Below we have shared responses from Laura O’Connell (Head of Corporate & Campaigns, UK),  Lucy C. Cronin (Head of Public Policy and Managing Partner, Dublin),  Victoria Cross (Managing Partner, Strategic Advisory Services) and Deanne Chatterton (CEO of South Africa and Managing Partner).

What inspires you as a senior woman?

Laura O’Connell: I am inspired every day by the talent and confidence of younger women I work with and also by the genuine respect for equality that I see between men and women today, which is a real shift from the culture when I started work. A lot of the old barriers to equality have disappeared but there is still plenty more to do.

Lucy C. Cronin: In no particular order, smart people, tenacity, creativity, a constant opportunity to achieve more, my faith, my family and Mother Nature.

Victoria Cross: It’s a cliché but I’d genuinely say my family. My mum worked full-time as a university lecturer throughout my childhood. She was always there when I needed her while making such a difference to the lives of so many young adults, and my six year old daughter who inspires me everyday. Seeing the world through her innocent eyes helps me remain grounded, and positive, even when things are tough.

Deanne Chatterton: I am inspired by the woman in my business who have not had the privileges I have been afforded but who show up every day. Every day they show me just how brave, strong and capable they are to do more, be more and to rise to new heights. I am also inspired by some men in my life who have had encouraged me and mentored me along the way. I am also inspired by the many women I interact with every day that wear many hats (mother, wife, friend, daughter, colleague, chef) and do so with grace, purpose and brilliance.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Laura O’Connell: To make the most of your life, have a plan. Set personal goals, write them down, and review them often (once a quarter is ideal). Use a holistic approach so you consider aims across all aspects of your life (e.g. health, relationships and family, interests, as well as career). You can then set a vision – for perhaps 10 years’ time, plan yearly goals to move towards it, and most importantly have quarterly ‘sprints’ of practical actions. I’ve been amazed how much this helps me achieve.

Lucy C. Cronin: To solve a problem, tackle it one small piece at a time and watch it change and resolve itself as you go. I am also a big fan of the Ed Mylett mantra – Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.

Victoria Cross: Never be afraid to fail. Easier said than done, but as soon as you see each set back as an opportunity to grow, you’ll be liberated and only limited by your own ambition.

Deanne Chatterton: Never allow someone else to define your worth and never turn down an opportunity, you never know where it may lead.

What advice would you give to women entering the PR industry?

Laura O’Connell: Never stop learning and build a broad skillset that will make you a communications professional in the widest possible sense; the industry is constantly evolving and becoming ever more sophisticated, you must too.

And build a wide and varied personal network, treating everyone you encounter from junior to senior, as you would wish to be treated yourself.

Lucy C. Cronin: Back yourself, always.  Respect the sisterhood and remember that you are part of a team because others need and want you there. And yes, you can simultaneously be a successful colleague, partner, sister, daughter, mother – just be kind to yourself while being all those things.

Victoria Cross: Go for it! My university careers advisor told me she didn’t think I’d get into a career in communications with a science degree – little did she know. And now, 20 years on all that knowledge of climate change is coming in rather handy for my corporate clients.

Deanne Chatterton: Develop a strong network of individuals both in and outside the industry who are going to push and challenge you because we need both to grow.  But who will also support you when things are tough.  Seek out individuals who think differently to yourself because these allow for moments of learning. Be patient and kind to yourself. Nothing worth building or growing comes easily.

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