An Era-Ending Week
When I received my job offer in spring of 2003 it was from a small but respected tech agency called The Weber Group. By the time I started in August 2003 it was called ‘GolinHarris Weber’ and within a few months of joining, we became simply GolinHarris.
At Easter I left Golin after nearly 15 years. Golin and the people within it, have been such a huge part of my adult life that my notice period felt like a period of bereavement, whereby bit by bit I tried to come to terms with the parting.
I maybe unusual (in many ways!) but no one stays with an organisation for that long unless there is something remarkable about it. During the early years when I was client-facing, it was the opportunity to learn from good people, to work on solid brands. In 2005 Jon Hughes and Matt Neale arrived from elsewhere in the Interpublic Group to take over as co-MDs. That was a major moment in the agency’s history. They brought tremendous ambition and drive, and set about winning some transformational accounts and hiring some new talent (Bibi Hilton arrived in 2006 and I was happy to quickly establish a friendship). The entrepreneurial spirit they championed combined with the global scale and breadth of the IPG offering was compelling for an inquisitive AD.
There followed a few curved balls in my personal life and Golin allowed me to try an alternative working pattern and then to take an eight-month sabbatical to travel (see New Zealand skydiving pic above). With such a strong affinity with the brand and such support from the inspirational leadership of Matt and Jon, it was a no-brainer to return to Golin as an associate director in 2008. By this stage we had moved from the ground floor by the bins, up to the 2nd floor and had grown substantially from 25 into the 30s, and 40s. We had won brands like Orange, Expedia and Nokia and were starting to get a reputation for doing things differently.
I had my first child in 2009 and returning to work in 2010, once again Matt and Jon showed an enlightened attitude. Still committed to the agency but looking for something new, I returned to look after marketing and talent acquisition on a 3-day week. Golin globally was gearing up for a huge structural change, moving from the generalist approach to a specialist model, G4. A big departure for Golin and in fact, for the industry. This was a massive accelerator in terms of Golin’s profile and growth.
The ensuing eight years have been hard work but exhilarating and rewarding. Liberating to have had the permission and opportunity to help build a strong brand and one that became known as a progressive and flexible employer. Bibi has been MD now for over three years. Such an impressive leader, has presided over commercial success and industry accolades. There’s no one more driven or committed to equality in our industry comms. It has been an absolute privilege to work with her on initiatives and collaborations that applied Golin’s creativity to try and make a difference.
An invitation to partner with Amanda Fone of f1 Recruitment and Liz Nottingham, now of R/GA on the wonderful Back2businessship (returner) programme four years ago and the global Golin expedition last summer to scale Mount Kilimanjaro, have both had a powerful effect on me. Life is short and my time at Golin has had such a deep impact but it’s time to test myself, to learn and to focus all my energies on trying to further the cause of equality and inclusion in the workplace. I am of course humble enough to recognise I don’t have a wand to wave but I am so motivated to play whatever role I can. The website is a work in progress but Jane Fordham Consulting is registered and open for business!