Andrea Mattis is an Employee Engagement Specialist with an interest in improving employee engagement and culture within organisations; Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity & Inclusion. Outside of work she is a Confidence Coach.
Andrea has worked in communications for 9 years for organisations such as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Network Rail, AB InBev and Genesis Housing. She is currently the Global Internal Communications Manager for Collinson.
Andrea started out as a Press Officer for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games before continuing her mix of external and internal communications. Her career highlights include partnering with Greater London Authority to help roll out their Gigs initiative across 10 of London’s busiest railway stations as part of Network Rail’s CSR, meeting Prince Harry by accident as part of a royal visit (read more later) and being part of a team that achieved 19.8 million in attendance figures through PR campaigns for London 2012.
In 2018 Andrea created The Confidence Club, a platform for women to improve their own confidence through events, mentoring and coaching. Andrea is passionate about creating impact and supporting women to build their confidence in the workplace. Her philosophy is simple: life is too short to not live your best life.
She lives in London and was born in Birmingham.
Describe your background/yourself in 5 words max?
Proud Brummie via Jamaica
How did you get into PR/comms/creative?
I made the transition from working in education to PR and communications about 9 years ago. I was working as a Learning Mentor for young people across the London Borough of Hounslow but knew long term that I wanted to move into PR. I studied my masters in Political Campaigning and Reporting at City University London which helped me to develop strong journalistic skills – in particular in writing and TV within politics.
While studying I continued to work full time as a Learning Mentor (not sure how I did it!). Once I completed my masters I started to contact companies for work experience. As I was still working full time, I would use either my annual leave or agree with my manager for time off. As a result, I had the opportunity to work with BBC, ITN, Hansard, Sky, House PR and volunteered for Oona King in the media team when she was running for London Mayor. All of this paid off as I was offered a job as a Press Officer for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – specifically working on the Cultural Olympiad. Since then I’ve never looked back. I’ve had some great opportunities and have worked on some amazing projects.
What do you love about your job?
I started out in external comms. I do love the buzz of external especially when you have launches and press campaigns. Over time I’ve moved over to internal comms where I love being able to create campaigns that have a positive effect on culture and behaviour in the workplace.
It’s vital that businesses are moving with the times. People don’t just work for organisations just because they like the company anymore. People want purpose. They want to feel an experience when they come to work; a work/life balance; to feel that they are making a positive impact within communities; diversity and to see themselves at work; and work tools to make their lives easier in how and where they work. This is a very different way of working in comparison to 10 – 25 years ago.
This mixed with a range of generations in a workplace, means we as employee engagement specialists need to support our people with change. It’s an opportunity to remind people why they come to work each day, how they fit into the bigger purpose, and empower people.
I really love working in employee engagement because I can use my skills of being a coach, a specialist and a realist to support organisations with internal comms, culture, diversity and inclusion and CSR. I love the psychology of people, what makes people tick and motivates people (its also why I coach outside my work).
What are you most proud of?
My proudest PR moment is meeting HRH the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry by accident as part of a royal visit to officially open the international HIV/AIDS hospital, Mildmay.
At the time the organisation that I was working with had rebuilt the hospital, built new homes, a brand-new church and a community centre for the local area.
I say accidental because initially I was in a room to look after a group of stakeholders who weren’t down to meet HRH Prince Harry.
As HRH Prince Harry entered the hospital, he had other ideas and wanted to meet everyone, so when I had the message passed on, I was initially surprised. (A tip to all junior comms people who are starting out – a rule of mine is to always be dressed for anything!). I met HRH Prince Harry, shook his hand and had a little chat. It was a great moment in my career as it really summed up the hard work I’d put into this campaign to ensure our stakeholders were happy and media activity was a joint collaboration.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
That your career isn’t always linear. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we can climb the career ladder easily. I had a moment last year when I hit a crossroad and thought about leaving communications altogether.
I quit my job because I needed to take time out to understand exactly what I wanted to do and how I want my career to look like. After a couple of months off, I realised that I still have a lot to give in comms and that I’m not finished yet.
Be prepared for knock backs. Knock backs are fine and part of the learning.
Ask yourself if you are still happy with what you are doing? If not then work out your steps, what you need, who you need and get to task with your action list. Don’t be one of those people who moan without action. Get over yourself, plan, find the right support, ask questions and get on with it. You’re not the first to want more in your career and you will never be the last.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Ronke Lawal – she does her PR thing and adds value through her video content which I like to watch.
What skill do you think every PR/comms/creative has to nail?
Ask questions. People fear asking questions because they think they will look or sound stupid. You’re not stupid. How can you know the answers to everything? Think about it logically, you can’t!
To communicate effectively, you must know what you are communicating. If you don’t understand something, ask the question (a lot of the times people love to baffle you with more information than you really need). It’s your job to decipher what is important and a lot of that is through listening and asking questions.
Also build relationships with everyone at every level. Never turn your nose up to people because 1) respect is key in this industry, it’s a small world and people remember you for both good and bad 2) you never know when you might need a favour!
What is your favourite social network and why?
I’ve recently launched Workplace globally at Collinson and it’s my favourite. I love how it provides the opportunity for anyone globally to see information in real time, post and share while on the go and it’s a tool that can help employees become empowered.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Daniel Henry is a Reporter and Producer for BBC Africa. He has recently produced a documentary called African Diaspora Diaries for the BBC where he looks at the cultural challenges that people from African countries experience when living in other countries across the world. I have a huge interest in diversity and inclusion and I think it’s important to have more of these stories told and shared, in journalism and TV to change the diversity story. [https://youtu.be/LDUMz4hNmdc]
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t be nasty to others.
Honestly in my career to date, there has been a handful. Be respectful, kind and don’t use underhand tactics to get your way or use weird power dynamics – its not nice, not cool and to be honest you won’t build effective relationships this way.
Best campaign of 2019 so far?
56 Black Men. Its about time we change what we see in the media, for ethnic minorities and especially for black men.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
We need to continue having conversations about diversity. We all need to challenge our unconscious biases and I know that this is out in the media more but sometimes I worry that it will become a trend and then it will drop off. This is a starting point, the hard work comes in ‘doing the work’ on ourselves to understand the importance of diversity.
Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Andrea is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Maria Shum, Communications Consultant and Entrepreneur.