We interview Kirsten Doddy, Global Head of Marketing and Communications at sustainability activator and one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, Anthesis Group. With a background of advising powerhouses including MessageLabs, Dentsu Aegis and Sainsbury’s, Kirsten shares her passion, positivity and surprising hidden talent.
1. Can you give me a brief overview of your career to date
My PR entrance was in the late 90s when I joined Charles Barker PR agency on a maternity cover contract. Those were the heady days of agency life; many friendships formed while faxing out press releases! Charles Barker was the start of a really fun decade of agency life, including three great years at Howorth PR in Sydney, supporting clients in the APAC region, and helping to grow the Blanc & Otus agency under the helm of the fabulous Zena Martin. Realising I wanted to get closer to the action, I ventured in-house, starting with four years at UK tech success story MessageLabs, later acquired by Symantec. Expanding into Marcomms and global remits, I’ve since held senior roles at leading media powerhouse Dentsu Aegis, retail giant Sainsbury’s, and now global sustainability specialist, Anthesis, one of the fastest-growing private UK companies.
2. You have had the opportunity to work in different countries and across multiple different sectors, how has this shaped your approach to communications?
Ideas are sparked from our experiences. Taking influence from different cultures, approaches, and people can give you a wealth of inspirations to pull from. I’m a big fan of not being pigeon-holed and encouraging squiggly careers; having the flex and confidence to bring successful ideas to new industries.
3. You have worked in sustainability, what advice do you have for companies/brands who are looking to improve their sustainability credentials?
Do it! This decade is a pivot point in history; the UN has called it the ‘Decisive Decade’. Sustainability must be a Board-level/C-suite discussion. Organisations need to question are they doing enough, does sustainable performance flow through the whole of their business, including their supply chain? If supporting the global climate crisis wasn’t enough, it is now recognised that sustainable companies have stronger consumer engagement, talent attraction and retention, and investor attention.
4. What is your most important lesson you have learned in life so far?
We need to be in the driving seat of our careers. If you’re feeling stagnant or complacent in a role, it’s probably time for a new challenge so start thinking about your next move. That could be within the same team, company, or somewhere different. Staying in a role or a business that doesn’t support you as an individual is bad for your health. Friends and family are a good starting point for advice. I have a strong network of working mums, and we frequently lend support to one another.
5. What is your most memorable work moment?
There have been many, but one that sticks in my mind is the Infected Art campaign at MessageLabs and the buzz I got, and still get, from great coverage. This particular campaign brought the online threat landscape (spam, viruses, phishing attacks etc.) to life through partnering with artist Alex Dragulescu and his algorithms. A world first, the visualisation of these threats generated a lot of media interest. The memorable moment was when the CEO came into the office and immediately told me of his journey to the office on the tube when he’d glanced over the shoulder of another passenger’s newspaper. Our imagery was all over the page. Proud of his business and this awareness, his excitement was electric.
6. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given along the way, and by whom?
Unsure of who it came from, but giving yourself time to think and playback conversations is key to idea generation. Working from home for the past year has allowed many an idea to be constructed (and de-constructed) whilst walking my cockapoo, Dashi.
7. You are Global Head of Marketing & Communications at one of the fastest-growing UK businesses, what are the main challenges and opportunities you face?
The breadth of our offering and the industry’s dynamism means the plethora of opportunities is also a challenge. Prioritisation and keeping true to our mission is critical. I have a great team, and we’ve invested a lot into digitisation, allowing us to extend beyond our human resource.
One of our main focuses this year is COP26, where 197 countries and territories will report on their progress to a net-zero economy. We’ve many initiatives in play with partners, charities and clients, including working closely with the B Corp movement, something that we’re very proud to be part of.
8. What or who inspires you, and why?
Intelligence and passion. I love being surrounded by people who are experts in their field. Anthesis is brimming with experts that can significantly help this crisis we’re in. That is incredibly inspiring.
9. If you hadn’t ended up working in comms, what was your plan B?
Probably something creative, I started off doing a degree in clothing design before focusing on the Business/Marketing elements. I still love anything practical, especially after a long week of video calls.
10. Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m pretty good at the After Eight challenge!
Thank you, Kirsten.
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