Insights from Zaman Toleafoa, Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting

Zaman Toleafoa
Posted: Jul 2018

“Always, always, be prepared to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all” is one of the best pieces of advice Zaman Toleafoa has ever received. A Senior Managing Director of FTI Consulting, he started his career with the Bank of New Zealand and AXA Investment Managers before making the move into agency. We asked him about his career success and agency life.

What would you say are your three key attributes that contributed to your career success?

Not taking the ‘money’ early in my career, when it would’ve been easy early on to accept a higher paid job that was less stimulating professionally, rather than do those jobs that stretched and challenged me. It’s given me a much richer CV and career as a result.

I’ve also been fortunate to work with people who have been prepared to put time and effort into my professional development; nothing beats working in a supportive environment. Lastly, there’s no cutting corners in this game – those who try to tend to be found out, some sooner, some later. There is simply no substitute for hard work.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in life so far?

That things always change, and that the change usually comes in the most unexpected way and at the most unexpected time.

What is the key to having great relationships with your clients?

To be available, honest and prepared to give 100 per cent effort in supporting them.

You started your career in-house and then went into agency with FTI. What made you make the opposite move from most PR professionals and go into agency?

Agency was an itch I wanted to scratch. And I’m still scratching it!

What’s the best thing about working agency side?

Being part of the actual business, rather than supporting a business is something that I enjoy. And having the wide variety of contacts and relationships that you build over time in an agency life. I also love that everyone, from our CEO down, knows how you feel when you have a bad day. Inhouse can be a lonely experience in that regards.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given along the way and by whom?

I’ve been given so much advice, by so many people that it’s too hard to point to any one thing. Always, always, be prepared to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all is one of the most lasting pieces though.

Thank you Zaman for taking the time to answer our questions.

The Works Search is a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email

Sarah Leembruggen
Sarah Leembruggen
Managing Director – Executive Search

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