After my GCSEs, I decided I would take A-levels which seemed 'sensible' but interesting and after much self-debate, I landed with Business Studies, IT and Graphic Design. Although I would've have predicted it at the time, they really did come to good use – helping me in various ways in my IC career.
I absolutely loved Business Studies and through this course, I developed a fascination with businesses. How they operate, grow, succeed. Although complex, I've always said that at its heart, a business is simply 'a collection of people, all working for a common purpose'. I fondly remember in one of our classes, we watched an episode of Dragons Den (series 1 - showing my age!) and these leaders truly inspired me. As corny as it sounds, it was my A Level Business and a dose of Dragons' Den which made me go on to take Business Studies with Marketing for my degree. I decided to specialise in Marketing, as I felt I could use my eye for design and my creative flair to good use. Admittingly, Marketing always seemed so glamorous to me – so I was super excited to learn more.
After my degree (which included a year in industry, where I worked in a Marketing department for the Bristol Business School) I spent a couple of years in roles primarily doing marketing, which I did enjoy - but it didn't excite me. I didn't feel I was making a real difference. Beyond the glamour, the reality is that Marketing and Sales go hand-in-hand. Profit, is king and not people. Of course, all businesses exist for profit, but businesses wouldn't exist without people. I knew I needed a change.
A job came up for a fantastic organisation, one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe - and my partner, who worked there at the time, used to tell me about their fantastic culture programme. He'd come home beaming, sharing all the initiatives they would organise for colleagues; I used to think "wow they really value their people". A job in Internal Communications came up in their Corporate Affairs team, so I jumped at the opportunity. As I was preparing for interview - I read more and more about this relatively new area to me. Of course, it was a very small part and one of my 'job duties' in previous roles, but not something I ever knew I could specialise in. The more I read, the more it sounded a perfect fit for me and more importantly – I could see it was where I could really make an impact.
My A levels and degree helped me more than I would realise - design, being able to communicate in creative and visually impactful ways, IT - using technology to power clear and flexible communication channels and Business Studies, having an analytical eye, proactive approach and an understanding of strategic thinking.
My interview went swimmingly and I was ecstatic to receive a job offer. I spent five wonderful years at that business, working my way up from an Internal Communications Executive (and the start of the function) to the Internal Communications Manager with a team of two.
Although I fell into Internal Communications, I've never looked back. When I think of my teenage-self, I would've never believed I would be; rubbing shoulders with business leaders (like the Dragons!), helping them to communicate and engage with their people; working with talented agencies to produce visually stunning and impactful campaigns to drive behaviour change and organise huge Town Hall events which would help every person in that 'collection of people' to understand what role they play in our business. After nearly ten years since university in various comms roles, I'm pleased to say that now, #IChooseIC.