The Inside Scoop from Professional Services Leaders

13 May 2015 by Miriam Hanna.

Grant Thornton, Accenture and Arup are all very different examples of professional services companies. They have different hierarchical structures, offer very different services and work in vastly different sector areas. What brings them all together is the appeal. They are companies with interesting stories to tell and a prominence in their respective markets that takes many companies years and years to build up.

It’s all about scope

The appeal of these firms really comes down to scope. Most of the firms I spoke to were global, had several internal stakeholder groups and offered multiple service lines. Whilst you can work to understand a company, the aspects of that company provide their own distinct opportunities. Emily Binning, Global Marketing Communications Manager at Arup maintains that no matter what role you are in, it is always beneficial to be nosy and go hunting for the story. “In the eight and a half years I have been here, I have genuinely learnt something new every day. What Comms professionals need are good stories to tell and that’s what a firm like Arup provides.”

Practice the patience

The more people you speak to, the more evident it becomes that the bigger the corporate, the longer it might take to get things done. You need to be resilient, patient and creative. Plan ahead, more so than you might in an agency role, in order to make sure you achieve what you need to.

Expand your portfolio

Broadening your skill set and getting involved in other aspects of the company is the best way to expand your portfolio. Some firms will have a global aspect which will require you to gain an understanding of the global media markets if you don’t already. Others will run CSR projects, not just in the UK but sometimes internationally. The opportunity is truly what you make it. Wendy Watherston, the Head of PR at Grant Thornton, was part of a team that went to Birmingham to see former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, present awards recognising Grant Thornton as social mobility business compact champions. “It was a unique opportunity and not something I thought I would get involved in, but that’s the sort of work you can have a role in in a company like Grant Thornton”.

Focus on career progression

Mark Radvanyi, the Head of Media and Analyst Relations at Accenture, highlights the importance of a clear progression path for staff. “It is one of the most important things a company can do,” he explains, “To motivate a team, they need to be rewarded in the form of pay or benefits.” Traditionally, there isn’t a huge amount of progression in in-house teams. In order to be promoted, you need to wait for the person above you to leave and then enter a competitive application process for the role. “To optimise your chances of moving forward, try skills mapping,” suggests Mark. “Show the team what they need to do to get to the next level.” Staff retention and satisfaction will naturally improve and your team will perform at their best more consistently.

If you’re working in-house at the moment, what do you find the biggest challenges and opportunities to be? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Works specialise in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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