Fifteen years ago I joined a small two-person startup that had a big idea.
Like most startups, we were more interested in changing the world than making a profit. The product was sketchy and we had no paying customers. But we were determined to sell our dream to local and international markets alike.
Year after year I carved out my career in marketing, communications, external relations, operations and partnerships.
I worked with the very best brand designers, creative agencies, and digital teams to build a consistent message across all media.
We gained traction quickly and made audacious plans to build a home for our organisation on the waterfront.
Paying customers were signing up day after day (with big spikes in August). Our team grew to include some of the best thinkers on a plethora of subjects.
I co-ordinated projects, planned events, and managed a team of people to ensure our message reached far and wide.
We opened our new headquarters to much fanfare. With such a beautiful base in a prime location, we kicked on again.
Competition was stiff, and the big players were sceptical. But we carried on building an organisation that would not only adapt to a changing world, but would be the force behind those changes.
In the early days, we relied on others for our product. We knew that our organisation needed to be more independent if we were to secure a foothold in an incredibly competitive marketplace.
So we formed a team to guide us to independence, one that I jointly project managed. It was a rocky road. But a worthwhile one. On 1 August 2016, we gained full independence and became the University of Suffolk.
I’ve devoted my career to bringing a university to Suffolk. And now it’s here – a thriving institution with an iconic campus on the Ipswich Waterfront.
So in the summer of 2018, I decided it was time to embark on a new challenge. To take everything I’ve learned and apply it to different organisations in different sectors.
I’ve seen first-hand how businesses being run by incredibly smart and successful people were missing key opportunities to tell their story, promote their brand and take advantage of opportunities. Not through a lack of desire. Not because of a lack of vision. But more often than not, time and resource.
Senior teams know they are missing opportunities. But they don’t often have the capacity to see the bigger picture and join the strategic dots.
I am skilled at joining these dots; across boards of directors, senior teams, communications, philanthropy, and operations. It’s something I do better than most.
And so I started First Ahoy.