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“Building a successful career is a marathon not a sprint”, says 3 Monkey Zeno’s Christine Jewell

“Have an opinion – there’s no right or wrong way in communications, just options”, says Christine Jewell, managing director at agency 3 Monkeys Zeno in our quick, ten-minute catch-up, where she describes how she got into PR and the challenges of her present role.

What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
This will surprise anyone who knows me well, but I wanted to be a physiotherapist. I was very sporty as a youngster so it seemed to me a fun way to earn a living. I wasn’t aware of the more gory medical aspects of the job then.

Would your teenage self be pleased with the way things have turned out?
My teenage self would be gobsmacked! I didn’t enjoy the constraints of school (I went to a church girls’ school so you can fill in the blanks) and left formal education aged 17.

How did you get your first break?
My first jobs were admin roles where I quickly learned the art of thinking and planning ahead which has served me very well in a client-service industry. My break in PR came at the then leading agency of the day, Charles Barker, where I was working for the chairman and did a lot of background work on new business pitches and prospecting. The agency won the British Satellite Broadcasting account (now Sky) and I was asked to be on the team as an account executive. I’m eternally grateful to those who saw my raw potential and gave me a chance. I try to pass that on in my work today now that I’m in a position to do so.

What is the best career decision you have made?
Saying ‘yes’ to the above. It was a big step for me as I was very aware I hadn’t gone the usual university route and was surrounded by highly competitive Oxbridge grads at the time, so lacked confidence and pushed myself very hard. I did a marketing degree at evening class while I was working as an exec to fill in knowledge gaps – I’m a big advocate for lifelong learning.

Any career regrets?
No, because there are always opportunities if your eyes and mind are open, and you can learn something useful from every experience – even the bad ones. I’ve always had the courage to walk away if I felt a role or company wasn’t right for me. 

Why 3 Monkey Zeno?
I joined 3 Monkeys as employee number five when it was a start-up almost 13 years ago and had just opened a London office. The energy, rock-‘n-roll attitude and smart, brand-centric thinking attracted me, along with the encouragement to be myself and express opinions freely. We delighted in being the wild card and pushed the boundaries of traditional PR. It was fearless, fun and fast. That’s still our vibe today.

What are the greatest challenges of your present role?
Finding talented and ambitious people – especially those from a non-traditional background. Also keeping our brilliant team challenged and motivated. 

What advice can you give to others in the communications industry?
Read widely, take an interest in current affairs and what’s happening in the world. Be culturally curious and aware of consumer and business trends. Have an opinion – there’s no right or wrong way in communications, just options, so you need to be able to explain the options and understand the consequences of each, and make a recommendation. Take time to really learn your craft and get as much varied experience under your belt as you can. I find people today are trying to climb the ladder so fast they can fail to establish a firm foundation to build on. Building a successful career is a marathon not a sprint.

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