10 Minutes with PR Pro Amanda Pierce
Role : CEO Organisation : Burson-Marsteller Amanda Pierce was featured in the 2015 PR Week Global Power Book. As part of our #PRProSeries, Janie Emmerson, MD of Communications at Hanson Search, interviewed Amanda to find out how she made it in the industry. Why did you get into communications? I have a degree in Microbiology and Genetics, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I finished my course. I suspected that I wanted to work in an environment that was fast-paced and not necessarily be a desk scientist or work in an academic environment. I went travelling for 18 months, came back, applied for lots of graduate jobs and took one at McDonalds, who ran a great management training scheme. I started in restaurants, but was recruited to communications in the regional offices after successfully handling the controversial opening of a new restaurant in Chester. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and when the opportunity came up to join the corporate team in London in the head office, I put my hand up and said that I would love to do that media relations role. I never went back into operations. What personal attribute has most helped you succeed in your career? Wanting to keep on learning, definitely. Also self-belief and a sense of purpose - there’s a confidence that comes with that. The two together give you the ability to work outside your comfort zone, push yourself into new environments and achieve step-change. I also think that having an inner belief is particularly useful from an agency perspective – in terms of both personal development, professional development and working with clients. What would you say has been the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome? I think it was that move from in-house to agency when I left McDonalds. The focus is different. Juggling multiple accounts and still adding value is very different; it requires a different mind-set. Who would you say has been the most inspiring person you’ve worked with? I’ve been very fortunate in having different role models at different stages of my career. My most recent inspiration is actually a client who I’ve been working with. He is somebody whose leadership style is probably the most “authentic-to-them” that I’ve seen, where their personal DNA marries well with their leadership of the organisation. He’s a mountaineer, that’s his passion, and his leadership style tallies with that. He has a clear sense of direction for his team. He’s intrepid, a calculated risk-taker, who pushes boundaries and leads from the front. There’s also another part to it, working with what he would call the ‘rope team’, inspiring, motivating and empowering others who provide the back-up and support. What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given? It was from my father and it’s very simple: ‘do your best’. Be the best that you can be at all levels. When you’re interacting with clients, when you’re facing new challenges and opportunities, always give it your best. In ten years’ time, what do you think will be the biggest change in the global communications industry? Everything will change. When I first started in my career, we used to fax press releases and in turn receive cuttings by fax. Things have changed so much since then so it’s probably easier to say what’s not going to change. Communications has always been and will always be about relationships. That won’t change. Contrary to some, I think we will always need the face-to-face interactions – we need the ‘human connections’ side of what we do. Even if we’re working flexibly and in an agile way, we will still achieve most by getting together with our peers, our clients and building those relationships What would you say are the three words that best describe you as a communicator? Honest, professional, calm. Apart from your current role, what would be your dream role within communications? I’ve always been fortunate to have roles that I’ve loved, and I love where I am now. In the future, roles that would attract me would have a strong sense of purpose, so maybe working for an underdog or a charity.