A new blog and my first post. What to write about?
Perhaps some tips on interview techniques? Or a strategic review of the communications market that befits my position as MD.
Good advice comes from my colleagues who have been communications experts before becoming head-hunters. Keep it short, interesting, and make sure there’s a takeaway. Two minutes later I’ve decided to ignore the advice. I’ll write a second post “How to get a senior job in communications” as a takeaway.
Here’s my stab at discussing two things I’m passionate about. EA (Ellwood Atfield) and the Palio.
What do David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne, Lord Bell, Boris Johnson, Alistair Darling, Tristram Hunt, Francis Ingham and Jeremy Paxman have in common? Answer: they have all been guests of Team EA attending one of our exhibitions or events.
I am incredibly proud that Team EA has welcomed so many senior political, media and communication VIP’s over the last 18 months. Why have they visited us? Why did we invite them? Because although our main role is filling jobs for our clients, we are also passionate about being at the centre of the communications ecosystem.
Being at the centre of things and Piazza del Campo.
The greatest horse race in the world is the Palio. It’s held in the Piazza del Campo, the finest, most beautiful late medieval “square” in Europe. Towering over the Campo is the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s Town Hall. Within is the “fresco” (good and bad Government). A first tentative depiction that we are in charge of our destinies, not fate or the gods. The Palio is an extraordinary race, but it’s the greatest horse race because it’s at the centre of things.
Ellwood Atfield also strives to be at the centre of things.
Post-recession, some of our competition decided to diversify, creating “global networks” of garret branch offices. We did the opposite. We decided to focus. To go deeper into the London and Brussels ecosystem of communications and advocacy experts.
Depth, real market knowledge, a passion for getting out and meeting practitioners and staying abreast of new trends is what turns Team EA on.
A fun example (and a high point for me) last month was Nick Clegg announcing “You’re are all bast*rds” (see the video here) as he, along with Team EA and 500 guests from the Media and the world of communications, celebrated UK cartoonery.
Another EA initiative all about being at the centre of things is our gallery. The best three exhibitions have covered the Leveson Enquiry and free speech, authenticity in communications, and Royalty, War, Politics which celebrated the role of photo journalists in storytelling. Close to 3,000 people visited. I don’t know if they thought it was “thought leadership” but the exhibitions were striking, engaging and thought provoking.
Being at the centre of things, of course also means working with and supporting others. Nicola Bates founded the career mentoring program for the Speakers Internship Scheme. Gavin Ellwood has been rolling his sleeves up with Francis Ingham working tirelessly building the Company of Public Relations Practitioners. All this keeps Team EA sharp and up to date. We have our finger on the pulse of the industry we serve. Being at the centre of our ecosystem is fun. It also ensures we rub shoulders with more people, more “talent” than any other firm in our sector.
Team & Contrada.
At the Palio the team is everything and it’s called Contrada. There are seventeen of them, each a community with their own specific ‘sienese’ (identity). A lottery is held and ten get to enter a horse in the race. Everyone in the Contrada gets stuck in. The whole community works together to help ensure their Contrada and their horse will win.
Over ten years Team EA has gradually brought together some brilliant individuals.
For example our MD in Brussels, Mark Dober, is without doubt now the EU’s most experienced head-hunter of public policy experts. His team have established the Annual Association Leadership Forum as a key date in the calendar of EU Association Director Generals. Their rolling calendar of research and regular publishing consistently delivers relevant analysis and insights for association leaders and public affairs practitioners.
Mark has been with us for six years. Felicity and Renee for six weeks. Claire and Angela for six months. Four great new hires from The Works, Hudson, Vitamin T and Ambition respectively. From the old guard to bright new starters, Team EA is growing. Underpinning our team are real financial incentives, great offices, flexible working, the latest technology, transparency, a collegiate and sophisticated environment, and empowered Directors.
An irreverent, mischievous humour is never far away. David’s ability to recount stories, that really only someone thirty years older than him should know, like Peter Cook’s and Dudley More’s Tarzan sketch, always brings out a smile.
A team also needs to be cared for and inspired. Having an entrepreneur like Al Lukies and industry leaders like John Rose and Geraldine Davies to coach, mentor and advise all adds to the mix.
Winning and Delivering.
The Palio is of course a global tourist destination. But it’s also very much a real race. The Contrada, the team and jockey are out to win. If you have not seen the film you must (same producer as the acclaimed Senna). There is real determination and passion.
For the Contrada it’s winning. For EA it’s delivery. The point of having an exceptional team at the centre of things is to allow us to deliver for our clients. We work with some great organisations. Genuinely it is a privilege we never forget, but delivering a service where we aspire not just to excel but to delight, is not easy. The recruitment services industry is being transformed. Navigating the impact of disintermediation by new technologies and the growth of in-house resourcing teams adds complexity.
So to ensure our clients get what they want, we set our objective to delight them. We don’t always achieve this. Sometimes it’s us, sometimes our client, but striving to become the most trusted partner delivering premium recruitment services within the communications and public affairs ecosystem is what we are all about.
For Piazza del Campo think communications ecosystem.
For Team EA think Contrada.
For a passion to win think a passion to deliver.
The people of Siena and their annual race has always inspired me. Being at the centre of things, as part of a team yet with strong individuals striving to make something happen.
This August, to mark my 50th birthday, I’ll once again, with many friends and colleagues, be in il Campo. Being delighted by the greatest horse race ever!
I’m a head-hunter filling jobs, but I seek to do it with the same passion and ambition I see in il Campo.