My first day on the programme was truly eye-opening.
Not only did I find a group of like-minded people who could understand exactly what I was talking about, they also brought an abundance of ideas, suggestions and questions to the table to open up discussions on what we consider the biggest challenges we face as communications professionals in our industry.
Within a matter of minutes, we were getting to know each other, where we come from and what our main responsibilities were within our respective organisations.
We discovered quite quickly that whilst our corporate priorities, localities and audiences were often different to one another, the problems, challenges and barriers that we encounter in our daily roles were the same, as was our unwavering enthusiasm to fix them.
Saying that, hearing that other communications teams across the country were dealing with similar crises as my team was quite comforting to hear, and we were able to have really honest and open discussions about the different ways in which we could overcome these.
I found that it’s a safe environment to share stories, lean on one another and get a perspective that you wouldn’t necessarily have had the opportunity to get beforehand.
You can talk to the peers in your company all you like, but there’s something refreshing about hearing opinions from someone who doesn’t know anything about your council or how your communications team operates. The insight you receive is invaluable and it’s good to hear how others see you, as that gives you an idea as to how your residents and local businesses see you.
During the day we heard from various communications experts who gave an insight into the main areas of focus in their respective organisations, the challenges they face and the positives they are able to draw from their experiences.
We learned about the best ways to develop our teams using insight, measurement and evaluation and the difference it can make to our workforce, residents and the communities we serve.
As part of the programme you are assigned a mentor who is there to guide and support you when you need it. Having that support network at your fingertips, as well as the collective support from the rest of your Future Leader peers, is a brilliant perk to the programme and my mentor and I hit it off straight away. I’m not going to sit here and tell you there was no wine involved, but even the downtime is bursting with networking opportunities and socialising benefits that get your creative juices flowing.
The main things I took away from the first day were that I felt supported, appreciated and I had fun!
Our industry is filled with fast-paced demands and requests and we often forget to breathe … and take annual leave! This was a perfect reminder that you need to have that balance in your work to be able to fight the fires and have fun too.
I had a blast on my first day and I’m looking forward to spending the year getting to know my new peers and mentor and the exciting times ahead.
Kimberley Nichol is part of the Future Leaders 2022 cohort. She is Principal Public Relations Officer at East Riding of Yorkshire Council.