Room to Grow

June 3, 2013

Freddie-Room-To-GrowIn a recent conversation, I was explaining to a friend the long-term appeal of Ketchum and why I have been able to keep my career trajectory within the firm. Aside from the amazing people I work with, the thing I love best about Ketchum is openness to new roles and the possibility for career “re-invention”. Ketchum gives you room to grow; you don’t have to leave the firm to try something different.

I can think of colleagues who have traveled various paths from account management, to office directors to practice or new business roles or any combination of these functions. Similarly, I have seen healthcare colleagues morph to brand or public affairs, and issues experts becoming food gurus. Be it functional specialty or content area, Ketchum allows cross migration.

My own path has been as varied and satisfying.  I started out as DC healthcare practice director and after a few years moved to a practice role for North America within the global healthcare practice. This has allowed me to work with healthcare colleagues throughout the network on a range of client work and new business. In addition, with an increased focus on practice integration, I am working more closely with the corporate and public affairs practices.  These experiences have rounded out my healthcare expertise and made me a stronger professional. Ketchum has given me the elbow room to grow, and this has included publishing articles and a book on healthcare communications.

This flexibility and open door to new opportunities is not always the norm in our industry. I have worked on the corporate side and for another agency. In other environments, it is very hard to migrate from the job you were hired for; you might get promoted, but it is generally on the same professional track. If you don’t want to “color within the lines” of your job, you usually will have to leave the company.

It says a lot about our culture that many people have colored outside the lines and it has enriched the tapestry of their careers and of Ketchum. This lack of rigidity allows talent to flow across organizational sectors and to grow and flourish within Ketchum. Value is placed on the person, not just the job they currently occupy. Rather than see desire for change as “a problem,” Ketchum makes every accommodation to give employees new paths to success. In regards to talent retention, this can’t be beat. In the revolving door of agency life, Ketchum is a stand out with many professionals who are 20 plus year veterans.

When I was leaving my old agency, the global head of HR told me that Ketchum was special and that I would be very happy there. I had no idea what she meant, but now I do.

Image credit: theopendoor.lennar.com.

Nancy Hicks brings more than 25 years of experience in healthcare public relations with expertise in corporate reputation, issues management, product launches, branding and consumer education campaigns. Nancy is currently the Associate Director of Ketchum’s North American healthcare practice. She has published two books on healthcare communications entitled “Branding Health Services: Defining Yourself in the Marketplace” and, most recently, “Health Communication: New Media, New Methods, New Message.”