Life After PR Series – “Nathan,” Part 2 – What accounted for Nathan’s early career success that prepared him for where he is today? If he didn’t have a plan, how did he land in the right place at the right time?

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judith cushman associates human resources consulting life after public relations prAnswer: Nathan would probably say he did not plan his career, yet he did follow the right path for a bright future. Nathan put himself in the right place to be noticed for his growing knowledge and willingness to work as much as was needed. He had the right attitude and was curious without being overbearing. That made conversations about what he wanted to do next, natural discussions to have with superiors.

Clearly, he was ambitious and talented. Here is his career progression from college to a corporate job as Press Officer for a major US company.

College educated in England, he admits that he was a rather mediocre student. He had no master plan where selecting the right major would lead to a path he wanted to follow. He was not motivated to achieve a goal for a purpose. He said his first job was as a salesman for a company in the industry he loved. He had no idea about where that might take him. He was drifting. However, he did make contact with a marketing rep from a major firm that led him to a professional job.

He applied for and was hired to work for a consulting firm that had a comms contract with an industry-leading transportation company. His role was low-level research for the client’s internal communications activities. These activities involved broadcast-quality TV news, which were years ahead of what other companies were producing. It was a wonderful training ground for him, and he succeeded in the role. (I think he really loved what he was doing and was extremely productive.)

At the time there was a well-established career path to leave an agency at a relatively junior level for a professional comms role one step up in a corporate environment. He did just that. Within 2 years, he became a press officer for a major company based in the US. He said that he had a “gift of gab” that fit PR practices.

He commented that the opportunity he had does not exist any longer; that those entry level corporate roles are gone. In those days he said they were faxing press releases or using couriers to deliver hard copies of the documents. He said he loved the job and was highly motivated to work with the media and the people he admired.

He added that his start in internal communications was linked to producing broadcast quality work, that he never understood why PR/Marketing/Internal Communications were separate functions. He instinctively felt they should be combined. He said that his belief in the value of the marketing communications role was instilled in him at that time. He felt there were missed opportunities because these roles were not linked. He remains a tireless advocate for the importance of internal communications as a component of an integrated communications initiative.

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