Crisis management is listed as one of Holly Broadway’s business attributes on LinkedIn. If her air of calm competence is anything to go by, the training has stood by her during the pandemic.
We meet via a video call and Holly’s broad smile is charming as she lists some of her achievements during three national lockdowns – supporting her team, welcoming new clients, promoting a number of media campaigns and receiving promotion to director. Oh, and moving house to begin a large-scale renovation project with her partner.
I feel weak at the prospect, but Holly seems to thrive on all this activity.
She does admit it has been hard at times, trying to lead the team of six in the Southampton office of Grayling public relations, for whom she steps into the role of director in April, while retaining her position as head of office.
What impresses me more is that Holly has achieved all this so early in her career – a subject she slightly shies away from. “OK, I’m 32”, she answers with a wry smile in answer to my question. “People often ask and seem to be surprised I’ve got where I am by now.”
With that subject safely behind us, we chat through Holly’s career. She studied fashion and clothing at Basingstoke College of Technology, following it with a BA in fashion promotion at the University for the Creative Arts, graduating in 2010. After a period working in the marketing sector, dealing with luxury clients such as Harrods and Stella McCartney, she did an internship with the Daily Telegraph and decided public relations was where she wanted to be.
She moved back to Hampshire and worked for a communications agency in Southampton, specialising in private healthcare, before joining Grayling six years ago and making her way up the ladder. According to her LinkedIn profile, her speciality in handling crisis communications for company clients is supported by “developing strategies and providing on-call communications advice to consumer and b2b clients during high-profile incidents”.
Holly references, Sarah Scholefield, the CEO of Grayling, as an inspirational leader. “It’s an exciting and growing business,” she says with a smile. “I’m really excited by what is to come, once we get through these next few months.”
So, how has the past year been? Holly says she has maintained close contact with her team members via video calls, but misses the day-to-day buzz of office life. A quick glance at the website shows that under “normal” conditions life as a Grayling employee is filled with social activities.
“We do a lot of work with the hospitality sector, so there are bound to be lots of social occasions,” Holly says. “We work with big clients, like M&S, the National Grid and B&Q and there’s a lot of meeting and greeting.”
In personal terms, Holly has found lockdown hard at times, but maintains a philosophical outlook. “It has been an interesting and different year,” she says, with admirable understatement. “I’ve encouraged everyone to take time off to be themselves. It’s easy to work too long from home. I try to get out for regular exercise and just to be in the fresh air.