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10 February 2014

Where are they now? David, former Account Director, MHP

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I went to see f1 when I was working as an advisor to the Director of Communications at the children’s charity, the NSPCC. I said that I wanted to be qualified to do my boss’s job at some point in the future, but that I knew I was missing key experience – what did I need to do to get it? f1 was focused and helpful. We talked about communications consultancy experience being a gap and they introduced me to a range of great agencies. I knew I would be going into a tough environment but I knew I also wanted a sense of purpose. I chose MHP, a fairly newly formed part of the Engine Group which had a very distinct style, character and flavour, interesting people from different backgrounds, and a clear ethical code. I joined in 2011 as an account director in the corporate reputation team, which was run by Paul Baverstock – a fun and fascinating person to work with. I worked with brilliant clients on some of their most pressing reputational challenges, and I was able to work with some of the most talented and hard-working people I’ve ever met.

Corporate reputation is an interesting field. Increasingly, people within companies recognise that they can’t set their strategy in isolation of the world around them. If you have customers, shops, factories, members, in a community then you are part of that community and you have to be proactive about your reputation within it. Social media and the international reach of many modern brands means that people have very different views about a company’s activities, and aren’t afraid to share them. In my experience, good consultancies help to close the gap between what the public think and what companies think.

I had worked with Amanda Fone before she established f1, the year I started a politics degree at Leeds. I had already decided that I wanted to work in communications and Amanda set me up with holiday work experience at Time Magazine’s press office, the CBI press office and with a small NGO called Tools for Schools. I can’t be more positive about the experience of working with her and f1. I have never felt under pressure from them to accept offers that weren’t right. All the way through my career f1 has been there to answer questions and give me its view on the right move to make. It has sent people to me to learn about my experience so far. It also recruited many of our team at MHP.

My tip for making a good career move is: don’t feel under pressure to take a job because it sounds good that moment. Make sure you are comfortable with your choice, and that you know how it’ll help you to get on in the future. When you go to the job interview remember it’s as much about the organisation selling to you as it is you to them. Remember to ask all the important questions about career opportunities, what kind of work you’ll be doing, who you’ll work with and how quickly you might progress. What’s the employer brand? What’s the culture of the organisation? Don’t be too English!