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CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2024

07.03.2024
Written by Tess Pennington
4 min read
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2024

At Fleet Street we’re proud to have 72% female representation within our senior leadership team. This International Women’s Day our Managing Director, Tess Pennington, shares some of her experiences and thoughts on her achievements, advice and the importance of inclusion in the workplace.

 What is your biggest achievement?

Not that I want to dwell on the period of time itself, and not specifically ‘my’ achievement, but I’m particularly proud of how we as an agency acted during the pandemic.

The fact that we’re embedded in hospitality, food and drinking, meant our clients (and therefore our revenues) were severely hit. However, we knew that it was incredibly important for us to provide consultancy and general support and so we made the decision to support the industry where we could. We were very much involved in a number of initiatives designed to support hospitality, working pro bono. These included Eat Out To Help Out, continuing our work with charity initiatives, we identified startups that needed support and while it was undoubtedly tough – and remains so for many – we weathered the storm, retaining all of our team and have emerged stronger as a business. It was a period from which I learned a lot about myself, what we wanted the agency to stand for, and how we needed to do business.

What is your best piece of career advice?

Look to work in an industry in which you are interested and for me, that was always food and drink.

By working in a sector that you find exciting, you’ll be in the thick of it, growing your knowledge and, more importantly, enjoying what you do.  Ask questions, educate yourself through background reading and networking with peers, and most importantly listen. A lot of knowledge building comes from being around colleagues day-to-day, in the midst of it all.

Organic learning is often overlooked but the landscape is ever-changing so we must continue to educate ourselves and there’s so much we can learn from each other.

When was a time that someone invested in you when you were starting off in PR, and what difference did it make?

I was lucky enough to spend a fairly substantial amount of time as an intern in a highly regarded agency when I first started and remain a big believer in internships in our industry, having that firsthand experience really does put you in good stead. One of the directors there at the time gave me an incredible opportunity to really get a handle on our industry and also were very generous in giving me their time. That is invaluable at any point in a career but to have that head start helped me to realise exactly where I wanted to specialise.

My first full time role was in a small, specialist food and drink agency, and again, I was lucky enough to have a very supportive director who took me under their wing and taught me so much.  Yes, I could say luck played a big part for me but actually it was the people that made the difference, through knowledge sharing and support. They built my confidence and meant that I was able to transfer my skills and adopt their approach to instil the importance of a collaborative and supportive culture at Fleet Street.

How do you inspire inclusion at Fleet Street?

We want to be a force for good.  Ideally known as the most responsible, people oriented and strategic communications agency within food and drink culture, and we can only achieve this by investing in, and committing to, our people.

We’ve worked incredibly hard to create a culture at Fleet Street that puts people first and encourage everyone within the agency to share what is important to them.  Every member of the team has a voice and we all have time for one another.  A key part of being a business that is a force for good is being diverse and inclusive and we regularly review our policies to deliver on these values.

We provide any relevant training, invite external speakers to knowledge share, and encourage the team to conduct lunch & learns on topics that are important to them.  We ask the team to share ideas in how we can be better as a business, we adopt to personal needs whenever we can, including flexible working.  We recognise that no one person’s challenges look the same, so we always take a personalised and tailored approach to ensure we have a culture that adapts to the person, not the person having to adapt to the business. We really do continuously focus on building a collaborative, kind and convivial culture.

 

And if you enjoyed that, you can have a read about some of the other incredible women on the Fleet Street team, including Jess who was recently recognised as a Rising Star of the industry and check out some words of wisdom from Victoria Page our Head of Purpose.

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