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Bringing some attitude to Save the Children

‘Careers aren’t made in moments. they are the product of hustle, grit, and spirit’. In conversation with PRmoment, Kirsten Walkom, global communications director at charity Save the Children, discusses the spirit of adventure that brought her to London and to work for such a dynamic global charity.

What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
I was very undecided about what I wanted to be growing up. I always had big ambitions and knew I wanted to do something I was passionate about, but I had not yet figured out what that passion was. 

Would your teenage self be pleased with the way things have turned out?

Very. I was a small town girl with big dreams. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to understand more of the world and be proud of what I’d accomplish along the way.

I know that my teenage self would be pleased, knowing I live in London and work to solve some of the world’s most challenging issues, such as the global refugee crisis or ending child exploitation. She would see it as a testament to what drive, commitment, and dreams can deliver. However, my teenage self would definitely remind me that there is still much more to be accomplished and that big dreams demand hustle.

How did you get your first break?
I don’t believe careers are made in moments. I think they are the product of hustle, grit, and spirit. I’ve been fortunate to build incredible networks, to work with inspiring people and organisations, and have been able to seize opportunities as they’ve come along. All of which have provided ‘first breaks’ of different types. Striving for the next ‘first break’ helps keep me excited about what is to come.

What is the best career decision you have made?
To leap. I’m an avid believer in planning, but sometimes you have to just leap. There have been times in my career when the risks outweighed the benefits on paper, but my gut told me to leap and I did – not even just from one opportunity to another, but into entirely new environments. The most important leap I have made was moving from Canada, where I had built up a significant network and career, to London, one of the world’s most competitive and dynamic cities. You can write a million pros and cons lists, but sometimes all you can do is trust your gut and leap.

Any career regrets?
Not always having the confidence to speak up. If you don’t see yourself as a valuable voice, how do you expect others to? Selling yourself short is always a mistake. 

Why Save the Children?
It was always a passion. I wanted the opportunity to utilise my skills and experience in handling some of the world’s most significant issues. Save the Children gives me that opportunity on a global scale.

What are the greatest challenges of your present role?
The shifting global attitude towards foreign aid, the rise of populism, and decreasing public trust. These are not small issues, but they greatly affect how we can connect with the public and deliver our goals. Oh, and budget. I’m always looking for more resources.

What advice can you give to others in the communications industry?
I always say that you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude. Communications can be a challenging sector – it’s competitive and demands a lot from its talent. But, the person with the right attitude, who willingly embraces the challenges, will recognise the opportunities faster and far greater than those who feel they are entitled to them.

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