Sylvie Pender - McCann Bristol

Name: Sylvie Pender

Job title: Account Director

Employer: McCann Bristol

Find Sylvie on Twitter @sylvie_pender.

How did I get started in Public Relations?

It was all very much by chance. Before going to university, I had been on a Pitman training course and picked up some wide-ranging administration skills. This opened many doors for me in the temping world as a student, and one day I was recommended to work at a PR agency to cover for a PA, and never looked back! Within six months, I was an account executive and within four years I was a fully-fledged consultant.

What do I do?

My role is hugely varied, and as I think many PR professionals will agree, you quickly become an expert at juggling numerous activities over the course of a day!

I'm totally committed to building strong client relationships and really getting under the skin of their business so that I can develop informed, insightful strategic plans or counsel which provide new creative approaches.

I'm very hands-on in my role, and am often found hitting the phones to drive media relations activity, implementing a social media campaign, launching a product or developing a more complex integrated communications solution.

What motivates me about this job?

My job keeps me on my toes and I find it very satisfying to be faced with a challenge and working out how to overcome it. Ultimately, I like to get my sleeves rolled up to get the job done with the team and see great results that make a difference to our clients.

What skills do I need to do my job?

Where to begin...! Apart from the core skills of a PR practitioner, I think that you need to be tenacious, have patience, be diplomatic, know how to read people, be prepared to show some initiative and very importantly, to be prepared to work collaboratively. All this, topped off with a sense of humour!

Why did I choose to enrol in CPD?

Continued learning has played a massive part in my career progression and has given me real focus. I'm an active member on the West of England CIPR Committee, and have held the role of Secretary for a number of years now. The position has afforded me the opportunity to really get to know peers in the region well. As such it's been wonderful to be really involved with the PR community, and see some common challenges that we all face.

When you have a busy job, it's easy to become complacent about what you've learnt during the day, but I think it's really important to reflect on what you've achieved, and consolidate and recognise that you've moved on a peg or two from where you were. PR has changed significantly in the last 12 years since I started out, and the CIPR's CPD scheme has helped me focus on wanting to learn and achieve new things, contributing to the CIPR community and helping peers in the region.

It feels like quite a real feather in your cap when you receive Accredited Practitioner status, and makes it me feel proud that I've continued to make the effort with the CPD scheme.

What do I want to do next?

I really want to further consolidate my skills as an account director, so for the moment, am concentrating on that. As such, I'm considering going for the Chartered Practitioner status next.

What advice do I have for someone starting out in Public Relations?

Be proactive, be honest, be enthusiastic, be inquisitive, never assume – and if you reach one dead end, don't think that's the end of the road. And above all, take every opportunity that comes your way!