Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Gina London – The Message is clear: Soft skills are a critical part of success

September 3, 2017

Back to school

It’s back to school time for the kids!

While we prepare to deal with the school-run surge in morning traffic, my daughter Lulu and the rest of Ireland’s students are (blessedly) preparing to sling on their book bags again.

Which reminds me, I spoke last Tuesday to a high level group of HR directors from an assortment of top tech companies.

Why do these professionals remind me of schoolchildren? – because we grown-up employees have a lot in common with not-yet-grown-up pupils!

The HR directors shared some of the biggest issues employees say they’re facing.

Top concerns centered around well-being and communications. They’re connected – and they’re issues children face as well.

When I lived in Italy, Lulu went to Aliotti, the most progressive primary school in town.

There, under the guidance of director Donata Baroni and English instructor Pavlina Checcacci, students are taught so-called ‘soft-skills’ alongside other subjects as part of core curriculum.

You can’t teach only knowledge anymore,” Pavlina says. “Twenty years ago, you went to university and studied a subject like engineering. The methodologies didn’t change for about every 10 years. Now it’s every five years. So, when you get out of school, what you learned is already out of date. Today, we need people who can communicate. That makes the difference.

If two people have the same amount of knowledge, yet one also has soft skills and the other one does not, the difference in their success is significant. Your success in business starts in primary school,” Pavlina says.

Likewise, here in Ireland, John Doran, guidance counsellor at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, is championing his own approach called ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘, which, he says, “encourages students to adopt a growth mindset and to communicate with confidence“. It is currently being taught in 120 schools in Ireland and Europe. “If we don’t consciously teach young people to communicate, find their voice and create a literacy around emotional intelligence, we may end up with a generation in a fast-changing world that is unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable” John states.

Here in the business world, it’s high time to get serious about soft skills.

They’re not soft, they’re critical!

Let’s compare some student approaches to what we can do in our own professional lives:

1 Learn to give and receive constructive feedback

Here’s an example from Aliotti: Each child draws a picture. The artwork is put up on the wall. Each child is given a Post-it note and instructed to write one thing they like about the picture, one suggestion of what to do differently next time and then another thing they like.  The classic “compliment sandwich”.

At an early age and with a distinct twist, the children aren’t allowed to simply write something they “don’t like” in the middle. They must frame the criticism as a suggestion for the future.

Each artist reads the feedback aloud and thanks the writers.

This approach is structured and it’s a big deal – Imagine how more effective our business meeting debriefs would be if we had all learned, as children, how to organise our thoughts this way.

Productivity would surely increase if we spent less time getting personally offended and defensive from feedback. Learning not to punish the past but empower the future is a trademark of effective communicators.

2 Learn to work in groups

The HR directors who gathered at McKesson Cork’s remodelled offices, checked out the new “collaboration pods” – designed to get employees away from individual work stations and come together as teams.

More and more firms are updating work environments this way.

Similarly, John’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘ programme encourages group sharing for his students and Aliotti’s Pavlina says they’re committed to stop requiring children to work quietly alone.

When in your life will you sit in a room of 30 adults and not take opportunities to discuss things? We can’t prepare kids for a reality that doesn’t exist.”

3 Learn to be kind to others and yourself

Studies show the number one factor in team effectiveness is emotional sensitivity to the others.

Learning empathy is key because effective teams make sure everyone speaks and contributes to get a lot of ideas on the table and build consensus around the best idea.

‘Ways to Wellbeing’, stresses techniques to help develop more positive and constructive relationships. “We help them change their emotional state from one of fear and anxiety to one of effort and application” says John.

4 Learn how to learn from your mistakes

Aliotti concentrates less on grades and more on the process of problem-solving.

Pavlina puts it this way: “Life is all about the mistakes and errors and learning from them. So, we don’t just correct tests, we ask questions like ‘What did you do? Why did you do that? What can you do differently next time?’

We find the child who gets perfect grades and never makes mistakes may actually have difficulty as they get older. Children who learn how to try again and again may have an advantage.

Top university business schools like Stanford and Harvard are also adding highly interactive classes and exercises to develop these types of people to people skills. Your place of employment can introduce them too. After all, we’re all students in this school called life.

It’s time to learn soft!

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Don’t fear the darkside!

June 20, 2017

Fear of the darkside

As 2017 dawned, I found myself jobless.

This was ironic, considering I managed to hold onto a full time job throughout the recession, only to be made redundant as our economy turned the corner.

Instead of accepting one of the cool, interesting, and maybe most salient at the time, PAID opportunities that I was presented with in the immediate aftermath of my redundancy, I decided on the far riskier move, and take a career break.

After an enjoyable, rewarding but ultimately all-consuming role as Southern Correspondent with UTV Ireland, I was exhausted. I needed time to take stock, and re-charge before I set off on my next adventure.

Surprisingly, to myself more than anyone else, I absolutely loved my time-out.

I revelled in my free time, I read great books that had nothing to do with my profession. I allowed my mind to wander as I filled the black and white pages of my colouring book with doodles. I had some great conversations with great people including friends I long neglected as I chased story after story.

By April, I came around to the idea of hopping back on the 9-5 train…..Journalism no longer had the same draw. So I decided to do a stocktake of the skills I had accumulated, and evaluate how many of these were transferrable.

If you stick to one career path for too long, you can easily assume that your skillset isn’t particularly unique……or sought after. Taking a step out of the rat-race helped me understand that a career in journalism had allowed me to build a valuable list of transferable skills, not to mention an enviable contacts book.

When an opportunity to become part of the team at Fuzion Communications presented itself, thanks to my time-out, I felt ready and able to accept. I could see how I could, with my journalistic perspective, fit into and learn from a very talented and hard-working team.

It’s still early days, but I’m loving the role, a role that I wouldn’t have the skills for if I hadn’t spent so many years chasing stories!

My advice, for what it’s worth, if a career change or redundancy (or a desperate need for a change) looms on your horizon, don’t fear it.

Evaluate your talents and skills, and embrace your next adventure.

Alison Nulty, Fuzion CommunicationsAlison Nulty

Alison Nulty is a Senior Account Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

My Crash Course in PR, Marketing and Design

March 17, 2017

Work experience

As my two favourite subjects in school are business and art I had a bright idea to apply to a marketing company for my weeks work experience. I was delighted to see that Fuzion Communications accepted my proposal to follow the employees around for 4 days!

I expected to be photocopying, filing and making coffee, which of course I wouldn’t have minded doing, but to my pleasant surprise it was the opposite. I was being asked did I want coffee and tea!

My time in both the PR department and the design department were both equally enjoyable.

In the PR department I learned a lot about using social media and not just newspapers to advertise businesses. Also, how not only is the article important, but the headline and the photographs are equally vital to grasp the reader’s attention.

On the Wednesday, Saidhbh, one of the PR team kindly let me shadow her on one of her trips out to take pictures for their social media posts. It was extremely interesting to see the ins and outs of PR and its not easy!

From my observation humour and sarcasm are the most prominent features in the design department, along with skill of course!

They know the computer keyboard like the back of their hand, they can also make a picture taken by a two year old look like a Caravaggio painting. The Photoshop tutorials were one of my favourite activities of the week.

Although I wouldn’t have the best IT background, with help from instructions and annoying Jonathan, the head of the design department with many questions, I wasn’t as shocking as I thought I would be at them.

I can safely say that this was much better than going back to my old primary school and looking after screaming children for a week even though that was also very eventful.

My experience here was great and much appreciated.

Kate D'ArcyKate

Kate D’Arcy, Transition Year Student

Twitter: @katedarcy1469

Well done to the very enthusiastic and lovely Kate who was a pleasure to have in the office for the week and a credit to her parents and her teachers. She rose to the challenge of writing a blog post that I put to her.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Cumulus Clouds and First Women.

August 4, 2016

Aer Lingus - Captain Grainne Cronin

I was having a super meeting with a new client last week, you know those round table moments when everyone is on the same page and all getting excited about the strategy and the jobs to be done to bring this to life.

We started discussing “Leaning In” and progressed to the first Aer Lingus female pilot. I recalled a conversation long ago with my Dad, who trained Aer Lingus pilots. Avoiding answering the question about what I had achieved in school that day, I pushed back to Dad and enquired what had he achieved?

He started talking about how he was training the first Aer Lingus female pilot, and that they had been working in the Simulator that day. Months later I saw a shot on the front of the paper (her first flight was in January, 1978) of Captain Grainne Cronin, sitting in the cockpit proudly, after receiving her wings. (the pic above was a retirement pic in 2010 after 33 years as a pilot)

I headed off to chat to Dad; “Was that the same girl that he was in the Simulator with?” “Yes”, he replied “ and what is going to make her so great is that she saw beyond the Cumulus clouds and really worked hard to achieve her goal. Sometimes when you are a woman you have to push yourself even more to grab hold of your dreams”.

Because of Captain Cronin’s dream and hard work breaking the mould, many other women were empowered to follow their dreams, and Aer Lingus now employs more female pilots that the global average of around 10%.

So let us ladies take a moment and celebrate the ‘first women’, those who break new ground and make the rest of us realise that we can go as far as our capabilities allow: Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Mary Robinson, Attorney General Maire Whelan and Chief Justice Susan Denham.

Ladies and Gentleman fasten your seat belts we are going through the Cumulus clouds, Have a safe flight!

Aisling White - FuzionAisling White 

Aisling White is an Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design based in our office in Dublin, Ireland

Teamwork – Are we in this together?

September 14, 2015

Volunteers in Brooklyn after hurricane

It’s Saturday morning and I totally admit that we are slightly hungover and very tired after a fantastic party the night before in the office to celebrate our Fuzion 15th birthday.

Despite the torrential rain we had a great turnout of friends, clients, media and of course our team. The banter and fun was in full swing and a few of us headed to Brick Lane for a few more drinks and even a boogie or ten! Slices of pizza at Fast Al’s was a must before dragging our tired bodies home in a taxi at 3am ….you are only 15 once after all!

Unfortunately someone had to head to the office so that the audio visual crew and the caterers could collect their respective gear and then face into the big ‘tidy up‘ to transform our space back into an office.

My head was sore and I promise you I was not looking forward to this arduous, painful task but it had to be done and as it was a Saturday it was Deirdre and I who had to do it. Of course we would love help, of course we would love a few extra hands to lessen the load but it is Saturday and the team are off so we wouldn’t ask.

As ‘owners’ isn’t that what you do?

We parked up and dragged our bodies slowly to the office and then something incredible happened.

Aoibhinn, one of the senior members of the team was already there with her young son Noah and she was in full swing with the tidy up. That one set of extra hands, that willingness and that powerful gesture of taking ownership felt like 100 extra hands and it just blew both of us away and we had the job done in no time.

We own the business and we have a great team in Dublin and Cork that work hard with us from Monday to Friday. For 15 years we have worked really hard to build a good team spirit but its moments like this when someone takes ownership and does the unexpected that you feel you have a real team and you are actually in this together.

It felt good ..thank you Aoibhinn

PS – Knowing Aoibhinn she will hate me writing this!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design with offices in Cork and Dublin 

 

 

What’s your dream job?

September 5, 2015

Tour de Munster 2015

With the Leaving Cert results having been released in the past couple of weeks, and the CAO panic setting in, I got thinking of when I was at that stage. Even though you’re only 17 or 18 years old, you’re asked to decide on your career path.. which begs the question- what is your dream job?

The recurring theme in most people’s answers to this will be that their job must have meaning and one that will give you the lovely feeling of making a positive impact on the world around you. I know that in my case, my dream job conveys the values I hold dear in my personal life, while also highlighting my strongest skills. By following my passions, I fell into the perfect career path- to all students, I’d definitely recommend taking this approach!

Having worked in the food industry for so long, and coming from a big family, I’ve always loved the aspect of human interaction at work, and PR delivers that in abundance!

The job satisfaction in PR and Marketing is great, problem solving and engaging with an array of people every day. The swift pace and constant engagement with others is what I loved most about working in the food industry, and I’ve found the same buzz from PR. Seeing success from a PR campaign that you have been a significant part of, or when an event runs perfectly, is a brilliant feeling, one that you just can’t beat.

Not only this, but PR allows you to work with causes and initiatives that you really value. At the start of August, the Tour de Munster took place, with the final, steep leg taking place on Patrick’s Hill. Over 100 amateur cyclists cycled approximately 600 km in just four days, with all funds going directly to the Munster branches of Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI), with the Tour having raised almost €1.5 million in the past six years for the charity.

Tour de Munster 2015

Sean Kelly pictured at the end of the 2015 Tour de Munster cycle on Patrick’s Hill, Cork.

I was already familiar with the Tour de Munster, as my dad and sister had taken part in the charity cycle over the past couple of years. This year I was especially proud to be working on this campaign as my dad celebrated his 60th birthday while on the Tour. Seeing the months of hard work and training that the cyclists put into the Tour makes you all the more determined to have a really successful campaign. Believing in the message behind the campaign you’ve created is the key to success. We at Fuzion also get to see how well the funds are used by DSI’s Munster branches. Working on a PR campaign for the Tour de Munster is such enjoyable work, and gives me real job satisfaction.

When I was applying for University courses back in my Leaving Cert days, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I did know what I enjoyed and what I was good at, so I followed these passions and studied English and Politics in UCC. Experience and time have led me to PR and to my ideal job. The CAO points frenzy seem to me to be so stressful and unnecessary for students.

Do what you enjoy, work hard and everything will fall into place!

Daisy HIggins, Fuzion Daisy Higgins

Daisy Higgins is a PR Account Executive with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


%d bloggers like this: