Building Camelot… the First 100 Days


Much importance is placed on the first 100 days in a new job. It sets the tone of your leadership. However the next 100 days are even more significant.


It’s 100 days since I became CEO of Ketchum in the UK. 100 days has long been seen as a critical milestone for politicians and business leaders to shout about their early achievements and success in their new role.

There’s a place for that but it’s more important to reflect on what I’ve learned in the first 100 days and how that is going to guide me to longer term success.

I can hand on heart say I have never worked so hard in my life. The intensity and pace of the work whilst sometimes exhausting, is exhilarating and incredibly rewarding.

100 days in, here’s my highs and lows, my successes and failures, and focus for the next 100 days.

#1 People are culture and culture is everything

I was determined to put our people first and at the heart of everything we do. Making sure there is something for everyone and that a diverse workforce can thrive takes work. But it is totally worth it and has resulted in an office that buzzes with energy, ideas, and a daily playlist from Jade Cooper that has me singing at the top of my voice and throwing out a few moves.

I feel lucky and happy to go to work each day and I try to spread that joy across the office and ensure that we are holding the line on standards and decency. 

#2 Listening to difficult conversations

When you are so invested in what you do it is difficult not to take every resignation, pitch loss, and client criticism personally. And if I am honest, the resignations are the worst. Our turnover is incredibly low thankfully, but I could name everyone who has left or is leaving the business.

I want everyone to be as excited as I am about what we are creating. Although I understand the life pressures and decisions that take people off on new adventures and learn from every conversation.

#3 Being decisive and trusting your gut

The pace of our industry doesn’t give you much time to ponder the big decisions, and I’ve found that when I wait too long I start to second guess in a way that is not helpful. When I do my due diligence and seek input from those that matter I need to trust my gut.

I also shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes, although I still am, because what’s the worst that could happen? I need to celebrate what I learn from mistakes as much as take comfort in what I get right first time.

#4 Embracing the supportive #Sisterhood

The amazing network of women I am lucky enough to have in my life from my mum and close friends, to my Ketchum colleagues, Omniwomen, Women in PR, and the amazing founders and members of the AllBright Club, is formidable. Women who are willing me on to success, sharing their words of wisdom and encouragement, offering support and asking for help. Deirdre Murphy, Kirsty Sachrajda, Barri Rafferty, Clare Cryer, Sam Phillips, Cilla Snowball, Bibi Hilton, Sarah Hall, Anna Jones, Debbie Wosskow, and too many more to name here. When your sisterhood surrounds you and you are generous in return, the power is exceptional.

#5 Finding time to decompress fundamental to success

I recently had a conversation with my business coach, Caroline Montagu, where I admitted that I was finding it incredibly difficult to switch off, to put my phone down for more than five minutes, and to enjoy time with my baby boy and fabulous husband.

It resulted in me being more stressed than I’ve ever been before, and not being able to appreciate the incredible success that we’ve seen at Ketchum in London in the first quarter. Her first question to me was “what points in the day do you decompress?”

I had no idea what she was talking about….. so that was telling. If I am going to look after myself, and avoid burning out, I need to carve out moments every day to let my brain decompress. I need to ensure that when I’m with my son, I’m with my son and not distracted. I need to ensure that I use my upcoming family holiday to rest and re-energise.

That is how I will be the best Jo-ann, CEO, boss, colleague, friend, wife, citizen, and most important of all mother, that I can be.

#6 Shouting and sharing our success

I couldn’t let 100 days pass without having a bit of a shout out to some achievements and highlights.

I’ve been on four continents, advised 14 clients, won 8 new clients, hired 25 new people, promoted 23 people, joined the PRCA Board, been elected to the Women in PR committee, hosted an event on influencer marketing, attended the Omniwomen summit, listened to every colleague who has wanted to be heard, and challenged myself to be better than I was yesterday.

I’ve also had my birthday, attended the BRIT Awards and Olivier Awards, made it in to the PRWeek Power Book (including being the 7th most powerful person in Public Affairs), and was included in the Holmes Report ‘Ones to Watch‘ in 2018.

In all honesty it has been the best 100 days of my career. I am honoured to have this position and feel very fortunate to be part of such an incredible agency under the leadership of Barri Rafferty, and my boss and mentor Mark Hume. Having a boss who has your back, is championing you, and who isn’t afraid to give you real-time feedback is priceless and I’m grateful to Mark for his trust and belief in me.

We closed the first quarter in London with significant year-on-year growth, and whilst that is to be celebrated, it is a small step forward on what we want to achieve in 2018.

Creating value as a force for good

At the beginning of 2018 I challenged everyone at Ketchum in the UK to be focused on three things:

  • Be a force for good
  • Be a driver of growth
  • Bring an entrepreneurial spirit

The response has been overwhelming and I get my energy and passion from seeing the people all around me succeed, and from challenging myself to deliver on these priorities every single day.

These 100 days are only the beginning, I’m ready and running at the next 100 and I can feel the energy, talent and power of the people at Ketchum all around me.