That tingling feeling

We’ve got a huge pitch today. A global team has been working on it for a month. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Love. Laughter. And a million deck changes….. Agonising over ever word, every image, how to start, and how to finish. 

I wish when I had started my career I’d kept count of how many pitches I’ve done. Like a midwife keeps count of babies delivered! How many wins. How many losses. How many where the client seemed to disappear and we never even got a result. 

I could have wrote a book. The chapter about the one where we had the wrong company name throughout the deck and didn’t notice until the CFO pointed it out to us (the shame). The one where every client in the room was on their blackberry from beginning to end (and we won – go figure). The one where we got a standing ovation (and lost). The one where we got the start so wrong we just closed the laptop and continued freestyle (we won!). The one where we pitched in February, thought it had gone dead, but got a call in November to say we had won. The one where we went to the wrong address and ended up over an hour late…. we didn’t even get to do our presentation. 

Every pitch team, everywhere in the world has a story to tell. For me, the most important thing is the team spirit, the fun, the creative. It’s the process of putting together our masterpiece and then giving it all we’ve got when it is showtime. You always learn something new in a pitch. So it’s never wasted time. 

This morning I’ve got that tingling feeling. I’m excited. I can’t wait to share our thinking, our ideas, but most of all I can’t wait to show off about the team. One of the best I’ve ever worked with. 

The tingling feeling is the best. It means we are ready. It means we have enough juice in the tank to smash it in the room. It means we are going to give it our best shot, and who can ask for more than that? Wish us luck. 

What the world needs now…..

Life is short and full of surprises. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected, and not always in a good way. 

There has been a rise in me first attitudes all over the world. Everyone is looking for someone to blame for what’s wrong in their own back yard, and it is easier to blame people who are different to them. The difference doesn’t matter. It can be the colour of skin, religion, gender, sexuality, or even just different attitudes to how life should be lived. 

The right have done an incredible job of exploiting these fears, while those of us on the centre or the left have been too quiet and too slow to challenge and offer alternatives. 

You don’t need to be influencing policy on the national stage to make a difference. In fact, it could be even more powerful if we start with the people closest to us day-to-day. How? See the best in people. Assume that they are doing things for the right reason. Challenge rude or bad behaviour. Reach out and offer help to someone just because you can. 

I’m an optimist. I believe that if enough of us can show kindness, to our friends, our family, our colleagues, our community…. if enough of us can be the good we want to see – then that is enough to turn the tide. We’ve been quiet for too long. We’ve been afraid to challenge for too long. What the world needs now is love, and we all have enough of it to drown out the hate currently dominating the news agenda. 

The next chapter

All too soon the time has come for me to return to work full time, and goodness I didn’t realise how hard it would be. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love work. I have great clients, I enjoy the thrill of going after new business, I love the social interaction and solving challenges as a team, and I’m partial to smashing a target or two. So you would think that I couldn’t wait to get back in the thick of it again? And in once sense I can’t. I’m excited. I’ve got a whole bunch of new ideas that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve got a fresh perspective on what’s important and how to get to where we need to get too. So yes, I’m excited to get back to it, but I’m also incredibly sad. 

I never knew that I would love maternity leave as much as I have. There is not a moment of the past 6 months that I didn’t love. Keir is funny, playful, loving, and just a little bit cheeky. I had no idea such a young baby could have such a big personality. He charms everyone he comes in to contact with, and through the winter months he has been a complete ray of sunshine. If I’m really honest I just don’t want to leave him, and I’ve shed a few tears over the thought of it.


It’s the first time in my life where I’ve wished there was a way to be in two places at once. And to manage it I’ve set myself a few guidelines:

– focus on the things that will have the biggest positive impact both at work and at home 

– know when good is good enough 

– commit to a maximum of 2 evening engagements a week

– be a role-model for flexible working 

– don’t sweat the small stuff 

– spend Friday nights as a family

– ensure every interaction with Keir, no matter how small, is full of love and fun…. and always has a huge hug

I’m sure once I’m in a routine things will start to fall in to place and I’ll find the right blend between work and home. I’ll definitely be seeking tips from other working mums, and there are some great role-models at Ketchum. You don’t have to choose between being a great businesswoman and a great mum – I’m determined to be both and unapologetically simultaneously so, not as two somehow dissonant halves. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m certain it is going to be worth it. 

Wish me luck!

2016 was simply the best

I’m sure a few people had a double-take when they read my blog title. There is so much despair and hatred towards what’s gone on in 2016 that I don’t blame you. From Britain leaving the EU, to Trump, and the horrors of Syria, 2016 hasn’t been  the world’s finest moment. 

But for me personally, 2016 has been the best year of my life. In the first 6 months I found my stride as Deputy CEO of Ketchum, learning new skills and embracing different styles. I got to know so many more people that I work with as people and discovered passions and talents that I simply didn’t know we had. My new role has given me a fresh passion for the communication industry, and also a firm belief that Ketchum has the ingredients to be the best, most innovative, and most sought after agency in the world. I’ve still got a lot to learn, and our agency still has much to do, but it’s an exciting time and we will make the most of it. 

The second half of the year has taken my breath away. My little baby Keir made a dramatic entrance following 43 hours of Labour on the 14th of July at 0218. He is spectacular in every way. I did not know that I could love another human so deeply and so unconditionally. I did not know how things that had been such a priority and had huge significance in my life would become secondary to this tiny human that I am responsible for. I’ve found absolute joy in every second that I have spent with him in 2016 and he has made me refocus my time and energy. I’ve managed to keep close to work without it encroaching on this special time. I’ve always believed in fairness, equality, meritocracy, work hard/play hard, fun, adventure, success, laughter, friends, family.  Not one of these has changed. In fact they have become deeper beliefs. I’m committed, more than ever, to doing small things that can have a big impact to try and make the world a better place. For Keir, and for all of us. 

So whilst right wing thinking seems to be on the march all over the world and progressive ideas are having to work 100 times harder to be heard, I’m not disillusioned, I’m determined. Those of us in the centre (left and right) must come together to fight extremism in all its form, to promote tolerance and acceptance, and to make arguments about ideas that the masses can believe in and get behind. 

So if you have a project or a nugget of an idea, I’d love to help you. Probably in a small way, but every little helps – right?

2016 has been my best yet. But I know for many of my friends it has been a long hard slog. So whilst I will say goodbye and cheers tonight, I know not everyone will. Let’s hope that 2017 can be a year to remember for everyone for the right reasons. It won’t happen by magic, we all need to work at it. As my mum always said to me when I was growing up ‘you get back whatever you put in’, so let’s put in all we’ve got and see the amazing results that will bring. 

Happy new year. Health and happiness to each and every one of you. 

Giving thanks, and staying hopeful 

I’m surrounded by colleagues, friends and family who will all be celebrating Thansgiving today. Whilst the food preparation photos have my mouth watering, the sentiment is more powerful this year than it has ever been before. 

Since Keir came in to the world, I am much more aware of how fortunate I am. I have a loving and generous partner, a strong supportive family, fabulous friends, a great job with warm and smart colleagues, a lovely home, and of course my beautiful baby boy. The past 12 months have been wonderful for me and my family and I am so incredibly thankful to be experiencing such joy. 

But 2016 has also been confusing. Brexit, Trump, Russia, the ongoing crisis in Syria, the increase in climate change deniers….. 2016 hasn’t been a good year for those of us who believe in inclusivity, openness, equality, interventionism. Just as I feel total and utter joy at bringing a new life in to the world, I feel fear and despair at the world around him and what the future holds for the world he will grow up in. 

I’m still hopeful. I still have a positive outlook. Why? Because I know too many people who fundamentally believe in the same values as I do. I know too many people who will stand up and be counted in opposing hard right forces both at home and abroad. I’m thankful that they will stand up and be heard. 

I don’t believe we are the minority. We may not currently have the loudest voices, and we may not be being heard by voters. But that just means that now, more than ever, we need to work harder,  we all need to stand up and speak out loudly and clearly whenever we see hate being spread. 
So thank you. To my family, friends, and colleagues wherever you are, for being part of my life. For enriching my days. But most importantly, thank you in advance for all that you will do in the coming days, months and years, to keep the world safe and to fight for the things that matter most. Love, equality, fairness, understanding, tolerance, respect….. family in all its beautiful forms. Thank you. 

When there is no ceiling, the sky’s the limit

The time has come for America to decide. The choice is clear. Take another leap forward in showing the world that equality is closer than it has ever been, and that no matter who you are or where you come from you can be whatever you want to be. Or, they can choose Trump and the whole world will be fearful for the future. 

This video takes you on Hillary’s journey. I cried. She has worked hard, never given up, and never presumed anything. She is a role model and an inspiration. Let’s hope America makes the right choice tomorrow. 

The future of work

During my maternity leave I’ve had the chance to reflect on the changing working environment. There’s a lot of talk about flexibility, but it is very difficult to find businesses or organisations who truly embrace and encourage flexibility. 

Outdated working environments stifle creativity and flexibility.  Allocated desks. Landlines. 9-5 in office hours. Hierarchy. These all contribute to old school attitudes. 

Now don’t get me wrong, many people cling to these things as solid foundations. They make the workplace feel comfortable and safe. Some of them, like my own desk, are things that I value. But do they really set the right environment for doing the best and most exciting work? Does it empower people to be masters of their own destiny? Does it make people accountable for themselves, their teams and the quality of the output?

The workplace of the future, in my view, will be less static and more fluid. There will be less rules and more accountability. Costs will be lower so rewards can be higher. There won’t be talk about work/life balance, because work and life will blend seamlessly to create a happy and healthy workforce. 

The reason so few businesses and organisations have achieved this is because there is a fear of the unknown. A lack of trust and a nervousness that some employees might abuse the system. And a desire for senior management to be able to see, organise and control what goes on in their organisation. 

So my 3 commitments as I return to work as a senior leader are:

To listen more: What will make work more enagaging, more fun, more seamless for everyone. 

To be braver: Break down hierarchy and barriers, interfere less, encourage talented colleagues to be masters of their own destiny, say YES even more than I did previously. 

To lead by example: work flexibly, be accountable, reward the right behaviours, attempt to blend work and life seamlessly and hopefully get great results along the way.

My return to work is exciting, but it is also daunting. How will I achieve everything I want to at home and work? Flexibility is the answer and the future is really only ever a day away.