Anita Rathod is an in-house internal communications specialist, with experience across defence and automotive industries.
She is currently Communications and Engagement Lead for Rolls-Royce, based in Bristol, responsible for leading internal communications across a multi-partner defence programme.
Anita has experience in strategic communications, content planning, advising leaders, delivering creative campaigns and supporting major change programmes. Passionate about employee engagement as well as equality, diversity and inclusion – she is committed to continued professional development and is always looking for new opportunities for learning and development.
Anita holds a masters degree in marketing from the University of Leicester, and a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing from Nottingham Trent University.
In her spare time, she enjoys travelling around the world and hiking the South Wales hills, as well as documenting her renovation journey of a 1950’s project house!
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
British Indian – Leicester to Cardiff
How did you get into PR/communications?
Growing up, I’d always wanted to do something in science to become an optician or a pharmacist. During my A-levels, I realised it wasn’t for me, switching a science subject to business Studies (the best decision I ever made!). This is where I had my first taste of marketing, which I absolutely loved.
After studying marketing at university, I dabbled in different parts of marcomms functions through internships in various industries, from energy to construction. This helped me discover the types of roles I really enjoyed. Out of everything, I loved the creative side and I decided to explore a communications role after my first experience of social media and corporate communications, where I fully enjoyed the latter. That’s where it all began…
What do you love about your job?
I have the most fantastic opportunity to work with some of the biggest aerospace and defence companies across the world which is amazing. I get to meet and collaborate with a bunch of awesome people across so many areas of expertise, all with different roles, backgrounds, and passions – and they all care about doing their best and being at their best every day.
Being in a fast-paced field also makes everything exciting (and keeps me on my toes!). Internal comms really provides a space to be creative – where you can always try new and different things. Who would’ve thought that in a previous role, I worked on planning a virtual talent show for a defence organisation?! At time when keeping employees connected and engaged during a pandemic was critical, of course!
What are you most proud of?
Re-locating to South Wales to begin my career and to start a new chapter in my life.
I randomly applied for a communications role that looked interesting. Except… it was in Wales and within the Defence industry – an industry I knew nearly nothing about at the time. I didn’t think I’d get it, so I planned to travel around South-East Asia instead. But, when I got offered the job, I realised I’d have to pack my bags and move to a new country where I knew absolutely no one.
I embraced it as it was a really great opportunity. So, I found a little apartment in Cardiff and the rest is history. More than seven years here, now with a house and a Welsh Portuguese-Italian husband-to-be, I’m Cymru’s number one champion and haven’t looked back since. Luckily, I’ve gotten away with not learning the language!
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
You really need to step outside of your comfort zone to grow – thrive and embrace every opportunity you’re given.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
#SorryNotSorry, I’m sticking to the internal comms theme here! There’s a whole bunch of fantastic IC pros who are great thought leaders and have provided lots of great insight, resources and more over the years. All of which has helped me from both a personal and professional development perspective.
My faves are Jenni Field, Rachel Miller and Advita Patel. I’m sure we’ll all agree that the last few years have been tough for all comms folks, so having access to their wealth of knowledge and expertise has been truly invaluable.
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
They should be curious and ask questions. It’s simply the best way to learn. By asking why, you’re also interested and challenging the norm. Use questions as an opportunity to unleash your inner geek and learn!
What is your favourite social network and why?
I never thought I’d say this but it’s definitely TikTok. I only created an account a few months ago, and now it’s where a lot of my screen time goes. There really is a TikTok for everything, and I’ve learnt all sorts through microlearning.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
Slightly controversial… I never really enjoyed listening to podcasts until recently. I’m usually more of a visual – webinar type of girl!
But, I’ve started to catch-up on Steven Bartlett’s ‘Diary Of A CEO’ as a first step on my ‘learn to love podcasts’ journey, as it gives an authentic insight into so many different people and topics.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Louis Theroux – he’s so open-minded, always candid and his interviews are always really entertaining. He’s known for being curious – something every PR / comms person has to nail. Oh and… I do love a good BBC iPlayer documentary!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Only you can experience the life that some of us never got to see – think of it as a benefit.” A text message reply from my father, a first-generation immigrant. It was in response to my initial message where I was complaining about waking up at 4am to get a train for an early work trip.
Now, every time I need a pick me up during business travel, I refer back to this message and it switches my perspective to seeing the positive of everything I’m getting to experience.
12. Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2023 so far?
Yay: The most powerful campaign for me was the ‘Cost of Beauty’ video, part of the Dove Self-Esteem project. It was such an emotional and purpose-driven short-film, showing how significant the impact of social media can be on young people’s mental health. Real, emotional and powerful.
Nay: Ok so I know this campaign was from 1995, BUT as ‘Pepsi – Where’s my jet?’ aired on Netflix in 2023, please let me talk about it.
This campaign stressed the importance of clear, concise and accurate messaging and not making assumptions. Although, it did get a lot of people talking, even now. If you haven’t yet seen the documentary, please watch it!
13. Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Representation really does matter – everyone needs to champion and improve diversity at ALL levels. Every workplace should have a culture where each individual can bring their true selves to work.
We need to see more diverse role models and thought leaders, AND let’s not forget to celebrate them.
Anita was awarded a place on The Xec. Leadership Scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and Ethnic Minority PR and comms pros. She is part of the class of 2024.