There are moments in your career that are professionally defining. The traditional markers of success on the conventional career ladder: graduation, your first job and coveted promotions are important milestones but they’re not always the moments that matter.
Ask a PR consultant on the brink of retirement about their career highlights and you’re more likely to hear about their nausea-inducing first pitch; the campaigns and work they’re most proud of; the characters they’ve met along the way and the people that inspired them to achieve their best.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with senior PR practitioners from across Northern Ireland at a round table event with CIPR president, Sarah Pinch. Sarah was in Belfast for the CIPR Northern Ireland AGM last night, at which I was proud to be elected vice chair/chair elect of the CIPR NI for 2015.
It was a day that was professionally defining for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I was inspired to see a collection of senior PR professionals sitting around a table, engaged and discussing issues that are important to our industry with our CIPR president. It was a pleasure to be amongst these people – my peers – to discuss and debate the challenges we collectively face, not just regionally but nationally and internationally.
Sarah Pinch wants the CIPR to be seen as the standard bearer for PR professionals, in terms of training, ethics and qualifications. She is campaigning to improve the professionalism of the industry and is particularly passionate about equality and levelling the playing field in terms of the current gender pay gap and flexible working.
She spoke passionately at our round table event and to members at last night’s AGM about her vision for the CIPR. It meant a lot – not just to me but to everyone present – to have the president of our professional body come to Belfast and to speak so candidly about the issues and challenges facing the industry. It was more than just a rousing speech though. There’s meat on the bones of Pinch’s manifesto. Building on the excellent work of past president, Stephen Waddington in 2014, she has real plans to implement positive change.
On the Northern Ireland committee of the CIPR, I find regular inspiration. People have given and continue to give freely of their time to work in a voluntary capacity to further and develop the industry for themselves and their peers.
Our colleagues, Gary McKeown, Lisa Hamilton-Sturdy, Suzie Fisher and Charlotte Richardson stepped off the committee last night after each playing an integral role in the CIPR in Northern Ireland over the last five plus years and were commended for their respective roles as past president, treasurer, secretary and PR officer. In addition to the election of our new CIPR NI 2015 chair, Samantha Livingstone, and my own election to vice chair, our colleagues Seona McGrath and David Young were elevated to the positions of secretary and treasurer and Sarah Monahan and John Megaughin were elected as new and very welcome members of the Northern Ireland committee.
One of our fellow committee members, Leanne Reilly was also deservedly honoured with the Chair’s Award in recognition of her great work engaging the voluntary and community sector with the CIPR in Northern Ireland. Leanne and so many other local committee members, past, present and far too many to mention have made such a valuable contribution to our industry.
Sarah spoke about the great personal and professional benefits she has experienced through her involvement in the CIPR, at a regional level and now as the president of the Institute. I saw a lot of my own experience (albeit over a much shorter time) in her words. Collaboration and working with your peers is nothing to fear. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by networking and working with other like-minded professionals.
Being involved in the CIPR NI committee has been hugely rewarding for me, on both a personal and professional level to date. Working alongside our newly elected 2015 chair, Samantha Livingstone, our past chair, Chris Love (who will serve as our representative on the CIPR UK Council for the next two years) and the rest of our NI committee, I am excited to play my part in our Institute in the years ahead. And I would echo Sarah’s call to other PR professionals in Northern Ireland: get involved and engage with the CIPR – we have a louder and stronger voice together.
Read a Q&A with CIPR UK President, Sarah Pinch here.