Slovenia, 10 Downing Street and the can-can - a year in the life of a communication consultant
Resilience to the unexpected is standard issue for independent consultants. Even so, the events of a year or so can be rich in surprises.
In October 2002 I represented CiB at FEIEA, the European federation of communication associations' annual Council meeting in Slovenia. To my great surprise I received one of a small number of Diplomas of Honour FEIEA awards every year, "in recognition of outstanding services in the promotion of better human relationships in industry".
Days later, the surprise reading went off the scale with an invitation to Downing Street from the Prime Minister's Office to discuss presenting to a network of government department communicators. No previous personal career experience had instilled such a sense of awe as knocking on the door of number 10 and climbing the staircase, watched by every prime minister's portrait.
The presentation was eventually made at the Cabinet Office to an audience of communicators from most areas of government. Using research I'd carried out into senior executive attitudes towards in-house communicators, I argued that comms professionals can break through a self-imagined glass ceiling to claim a seat at the executive table and even go on to lead their enterprise by improving their business skills and understanding.
At CiB's annual conference in Harrogate in May, I introduced BBC world affairs editor John Simpson as guest speaker. Later that day came a very different task - participation in a can-can style chorus line as part of a main conference session on performance in communication. Now that's what I call professional development!
Rewind to spring 2002 when I was asked to support a client project at National Grid Transco part-time "for a few weeks". It turned into the Quarterback Programme, a huge IT implementation and business change exercise - and for me an 18 month full-time commitment until September 2003. Virtually my final act was to write the entry submission for a national award for which Quarterback was eventually short-listed.
Excellent feedback led to the entry document itself being entered as a Special Publication in the CiB Central Awards competition, where it gained a Certificate of Merit at the ceremony in February 2004 - no bad ending to a year of exceptional variety.