Meet the brilliant Connie Berry. Connie is well known in our team for her ability to make the complex simple and get to the heart of an issue in a flash. Read on for her career top tips, and what inspires her to stay in the insane world of engagement and communications.
You started your career in financial services at EY, what made you make the jump into the agency world?
EY gave me a solid grounding at the start of my career. It’s a heavily matrixed and complicated but also a really inspiring environment, and I feel like I learnt my craft working with some of the best whilst I was there. But whilst I loved it, I wanted to broaden my experience and see what other companies were doing so I could apply everything I had learnt to different sectors and organisations.
Working in an agency gives you such a variety of opportunities. It’s fast-paced and allows you to work across a wide spectrum of projects with hundreds of different people, bringing different perspectives and experience.
Is the agency world what you expected?
In some ways, yes. I knew that working in the agency world would be demanding and challenging, and that every day would be different. Agency life has absolutely lived up to what I expected in terms of pace!
But there are also aspects that I didn’t expect. My experience of working with agencies whilst in-house was quite transactional – I felt agencies swooped in for discrete projects and then left. United Culture works differently to that.
We get to know the business and we get closer into our clients’ worlds and build longer-lasting relationships, which allows us to integrate into their business and add value. So that’s different to what I expected, but in a good way!
What advice would you give someone starting out in communications and engagement today?
Two key bits of advice would be; learn how to build relationships and learn how to be adaptable. Anyone can learn how to do engagement or communications but only a few apply the skill creatively and authentically.
I have learnt over my career that comms and engagement is one of those amazing jobs that you can apply to lots of different situations and opportunities. It allows you to be at the heart of a business. You learn so much about what makes a business tick from the privileged position we are given; everything from deep industry knowledge to financials, operations and marketing.
If you use that knowledge wisely you can become hugely valuable in your role, and your advice can make a material difference to a business’s bottom line.
What makes United Culture different?
We are bad-ass women who are good at what we do! Jokes aside, we love building relationships and meeting new people – we really care about building partnerships. Plus, we have a really broad spectrum of skills and capabilities across the team which means we can look at businesses and brands holistically, allowing us to make a big difference quickly.
What challenges are clients facing at the moment?
The main thing everyone is grappling with at the moment is the disruption that COVID-19 had brought to business. In many respects, it has accelerated conversations and strategies that have been around for some time. But the rapid pace of change in such a volatile period can be really hard.
There is no such thing as steady and stable at the moment. How we work has changed, where we work has changed and the promise between employee and employer is changing drastically.
Our clients are asking us how they can continue to drive engagement in a hybrid working world, and how they can foster a culture that brings commercial success whilst supporting their people in responding to everything being thrown at them – from political and economical uncertainty, to building sustainable, responsible and inclusive organisations. They’re also focused on understanding how to spark innovation and creativity under challenging circumstances.
The tricky thing we are facing at the moment is that it feels like the goal posts haven’t just moved, they’ve been flung out the window. How are brands supposed to define themselves in a world that’s changed beyond recognition?
What excites you about the opportunities you see in engagement and culture change at the moment?
We are at a tipping point just about to spill over into something amazing. It’s so exciting to be part of an industry that’s reshaping what the new world of work looks like right now. There is a real appetite for change and businesses suddenly seem ready to make seismic shifts to redefine the world of work. That’s inspiring and empowering.