I was nominated for the Lifetime Achievement recognition in the Comms2point0 #UnAwards23. This is a bit of a long read, and I apologise, but I’ve been reflecting on this a lot in the last week or so.
I was blown away to be nominated by my mentee, Carla Ryan-Griffiths. It was so unexpected and kind, and got me thinking, “why? what have I done to deserve this?”
I thought about my 25+ years working in local government and the countless crisis incidents, media issues, political changeovers, chief exec departures, events and campaigns I’ve dealt with. The multiple external regeneration projects and countless internal ‘transformations’ I’ve championed. The comms restructures I have instigated and implemented. The career highs (including shelf-fulls of CIPR and PRCA awards) and lows (culminating in burnout and setting up as self-employed – itself, now, turning into another career high).
But it’s none of this that, really, prompted Carla to nominate me. Every time I read the words she’s so beautifully crafted in her nomination, I see it’s personal impact that matters. The things we do over and above what we’re paid for. The kindness and support we show others and the often unknowing positive effects that can have. And that got me thinking about the people through my career who have made such a lasting impact on me, and to whom I am so grateful.
It starts with Liz Micklethwaite, my first comms boss. As well as being an amazing communicator from whom I learnt so much, including the ability to craft a compelling case for resources, she fearlessly taught me that women in the workplace are strong, powerful and not to be messed with. She was and is an inspiration.
David Newell gave me a huge break in 2002. He was my first Chief Exec and gave me the most senior comms role at newly-created unitary Bournemouth Borough Council, when I was just 27. He saw potential in me and put his faith in me too.
The sadly late Tony Williams and I worked so closely together for many years in a culture of innovation and collaboration at Bournemouth, including on various controversial regen schemes, and instigating members’ desire to create two large unitary councils for Dorset, replacing the nine that existed at the time.
With Matt Prosser and Jane Portman, I was trusted with leading the communications and public affairs work for that massive and trailblazing structural change. It was the best time of my career – negotiating with nine council leaders, liaising with stakeholders across a range of sectors, representing comms and engagement at the Board, and ultimately crafting the public-facing case for change.
My mentor and friend, Stephen Hardwick, is the most exceptional comms professional I have ever had the privilege to work with. He gave me a necessary shove and advocated for my abilities at a time when I needed both more than I realised, and was with me throughout the most difficult time of my career too. He’s my sweary, funny, clever, quick comms dad. When he reads this, he’ll probably bollock me for being so sentimental and I love him for that.
My ever-present friend and the most amazing deputy anyone could wish for is Rachael Mills. Without her abilities to manage teams and issues, keep the day-to-day running and catching whatever I dropped, I would never have been able to step up into the spaces I have, and make the contributions that I did. We left BCP Council within three months of each other, fulfilling the Thelma and Louise moment we’d always said we’d share.
And of course, my wonderful Comms Unplugged friends Sally and Darren. Always there for wine, support and collaboration, I am so so happy to have you both in my life.
Lastly of course, Carla herself. Whether I win or not on 1st December, I’ll always be so happy that you nominated me, and the wonderful feeling that gave me.
These people have made so much difference to me – this is a shout out of thanks to each and every one of you. Cheers!
For those of you still with me … here is what Carla wrote:
This is a nomination to recognise Georgia Turner of Georgia Turner Consulting who runs Comms Unplugged, volunteers at LG Comms on the exec and is an LG Comms mentor for the future leaders programme.
Georgia is my mentor this year as an LG Comms Future Leader. She is incredible. She has supported, cheer led, inspired and convinced me of my own abilities in a way not many could. She has this ability to bring out the best in people. This is something to be recognised.
This year Georgia delivered a fabulous Comms Unplugged event – a three day training event held in a camping field. Where forest bathing and talks about leadership go hand-in-hand. Georgia is part of the power trilogy that includes Darren Caveney and Sally Northeast. Like these two Georgia gives her time generously, she engages with everyone, nothing is ever too much, she has a heart of gold and a razor sharp mind. She is an absolute joy, with the freedom to support whomever invites her now that she is bringing her 20 years of public sector experience on tour. But on-top of the low-cost and paid for she volunteers her time and is incredibly generous and fun.
For me Georgia has helped me turn my job into a career – from interview pep talks to late night discussions about strategy over zoom (with and without wine and cats), she has been way more than a mentor – more like my fairy-comms-mother.
She is amazing and modest. So I know she would never expect a nomination, or realise she should get recognition. She is a real life example of someone who has been able to triumph in the face of adversity and has wellbeing as a core belief. She is a vision of female strength and humility – and she deserves an industry mirror.
(NB voting closed at 11:59pm, on Tuesday 21st November 2023; I didn’t win, but an taking that as a vote of confidence from my peers that I have a lot more achievement in me yet!).