November 19th, 2010 / 4:00 am
Three things you need to succeed in a career in PR
Guest post by Christine Jones
Women are in the headlines a lot these days. The release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar a few days ago marked another remarkable step in the journey of this inspirational yet humble woman. Last month, there was the canonisation of Mary McKillop, Australia’s first saint – again, a woman driven to help others in her quiet, self-assured but determined way. Less humbly, but by no means with less determination, we see women in politics – Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister; Hillary Rodham Clinton, US secretary of state who recently visited our region; Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany – also the country’s first female leader; and even Sarah Palin, who looks like having another go at the White House. Then there’s women in business – Gail Kelly, the CEO of Westpac Bank in Australia; Wei Sun Christianson, CEO of Morgan Stanley in China – who has prevailed in what is still considered a man’s world; and Oprah Winfrey – due to touch down in Australia next month, whose name and show can literally turn any business or person into an instant, multimillion dollar success.
So what do these women have in common? And more to the point, what does that have to do with me and the thousands of other ordinary women like me, working just as hard every day?
You see, I believe there are three things these women have in common and all women need to achieve success. It’s not a gender target – although I don’t mind the Australian Government letting businesses know it’s time to get serious about creating an even playing field. It’s not necessarily a good education – though it obviously helps; or good luck, which can clearly play a part for some, but not all people.
No, the three things that any one of us need are ability, self-belief and opportunity.
Ability is not necessarily defined by education, but by knowing yourself and identifying a skill you have – be that a connection with others, creativity, great writing skills or business acumen.
Then, you have to have the self-belief to act upon this skill and use to it to go further than where you are now. This requires inner strength so you are not defeated when faced with the setbacks you will inevitably encounter on your journey to your future.
And lastly, you need opportunity. If this does not exist, then you must seek or create it. Take Aung San Suu Kyi. She has spent the last seven years under house arrest with seemingly little chance of keeping her dream for democracy going. Yet, here she is, free again, with just as much support as she had all those years ago, despite her situation.
So, in your current role – whatever and where ever that is – at university, in an agency, corporate or Government department, you must ask yourself three questions and answer them with brutal honesty. What am I really good at? What does my ideal job look like? And, does this company offer me the opportunity to become the best I can be?
That’s what I like about Burson-Marsteller and what drew me back to the firm from a senior, global in-house role at the headquarters of a large pharmaceutical company.
When people think about B-M, they probably think about Harold Burson as the elder statesman of the PR industry. I bet they don’t know that B-M in Asia-Pacific employs more women in senior roles that just about any PR agency I know. In every country on the Asian mainland where B-M has an office, its market leader is a local woman. Beyond that, there are women at every level of management – in business development, finance and marketing.
Now, you might say I am biased because I work here. But facts are facts. All I am saying is, you need to make sure you are in a place where you can genuinely use your best skills and create and seize opportunities. It’s not all you need, but it is a vital ingredient.
Christine Jones is regional managing director at Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific and is based in Australia. She has 25 years of experience working in communications roles in Australia, Asia, Europe and UK. She is married with two children aged 10 and 9 and loves the beach, exercise and hanging out with her family and friends. If you have a question about your career in communications you can email Chrissy on email@example.com
December 17th, 2009 / 1:55 pm
I just wrote a new opinion article with personal reflections about how to know the future trajectory of a PR firm’s fortunes.
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