The final piece of advice from Nan Williams, founder of Four Communications, in our speedy interview is: “Learn how to make money”. She also discusses her teenage ambitions and career highlights.
What did you want to be when you were a teenager? Would your teenage self be pleased with how your career has panned out?
I was pretty keen on all things political as a teenager and have been a long-term member of the Labour party. As a budding linguist I was also interested in foreign affairs. I think my teenage self did not understand the fascination and challenges of being in business, but would be pretty pleased with what I have done. And, of course, both politics and diplomacy are critical skills in running a successful public relations business! Seriously, though, I don’t think our education system allows young people to understand the importance, excitement and fulfilment of going into business. I would really like to change that.
Have you got any regrets about any decisions you have made?
I really do believe in that old adage “If you never get anything wrong, you are not trying hard enough.” In life you have to take risks and try new things – that is the only way to meet your ambitions and create something valuable. I am sure that lots of my decisions could have been better, of course. But on the whole I have made the right decisions on the things that really matter. Regret is a pretty negative sentiment – I prefer to find the positive, learn the lessons, and try not to make the same mistakes again.
What have been your career highlights?
Getting my first job in PR as a graduate trainee at Charles Barker which has been the alma mater of so many successful people in our business; getting an MBA under my belt whilst working; ploughing on up the career ladder as the single mum of two children; and, of course, setting up our own business at Four fifteen years ago.
Why did you choose to start up Four Communications? What are the main challenges of starting an agency?
We really believed that we could provide brilliant client service to challenge the largest groups in our industry but with that personal touch we believed in so much. And that is exactly what we have done. The main challenges are always around the balance of how much to invest into the business and when. As an ambitious start up you have to invest ahead….whilst keeping an iron grip on the financials at the same time. It is quite a challenge – but very rewarding.
What are the particular challenges of your present role?
As the agency gets larger the main challenge is to keep developing the culture of the company to meet new challenges whilst maintaining the heart and soul of a very personal agency where people can develop their careers.
What advice would you give anyone starting out in PR?
Be prepared to work very hard indeed; focus on what your clients need; embrace the wonderful variety of opportunity PR can offer you; be ambitious; learn how to make money.
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