Doyel will be joining publishing giant Hachette UK as Group Communications Director and member of the Board in March 2020.
She is currently Head of PR & Consumer Affairs at MoneySuperMarket. Over the last four years, she has led a team that promotes and protects MoneySuperMarket’s reputation among a wide range of influencers who shape consumer perceptions of the brand. Since joining, her role has evolved to include PR for SEO, Internal Communications and, most recently, Content.
Prior to joining MoneySuperMarket, Doyel was Deputy Head of Global Communications at viagogo, a start-up that revolutionized consumer access to live entertainment. She led the global press office; launched the brand to consumers in Australia, the US, Ireland and the Netherlands; managed issues that impacted corporate reputation, from criticism of the business model to regulatory threats, and delivered positive coverage in diverse global media.
Prior to viagogo, Doyel was Head of Communications for MasterCard in the UK and Ireland, promoting products, partnerships and the ‘Priceless’ brand platform. With a wide remit, on any given day, she could be explaining to an MP how MasterCard’s products advanced financial inclusion among ‘unbanked’ consumers, persuading The Times’ retail editor to use MasterCard’s data to illustrate seasonal spending trends, or pitching an interview with Jessie J to Mail Online as part of MasterCard’s title sponsorship of The BRIT Awards.
Before moving in-house, Doyel worked agency-side at Weber Shandwick and Citigate Dewe Rogerson. Doyel is a graduate of the University of Oxford.
● Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Proud British Indian. Happy introvert.
● How did you get into PR/communications?
I always wanted to write, so I started a postgrad degree in journalism that included professional placements at The Times and The Independent. I found journalism was a pretty solitary job – you chase a story, move quickly on to the next one, and so on. Hearing journalists talking about the benefits of moving to the ‘dark side’ sparked my interest in PR.
It offered more opportunity for teamwork and – let’s be honest – better pay, while still allowing me to tell stories. I applied for the graduate trainee programme at Citigate Dewe Rogerson and the rest is history.
● What do you love about your job?
Is it weird to say I love it when the sh*t hits the fan? Adversity brings out the best in me.
● What are you most proud of?
After starting my career at agency, I moved in-house to become the first Head of Comms for MasterCard UK & Ireland at the age of 29. I was a young woman of colour in a company which, at the time, epitomised the stereotype of financial services – but it really wanted to evolve. It started actively recruiting more diverse talent and supporting them to make an impact, long before everyone else joined the conversation. Today, under the leadership of CEO Ajay Banga, MasterCard has transformed into one of the most progressive and inclusive brands in the world and I’m proud to have played a small part in that journey, during a pivotal point in my own career.
● What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Someone once told me that the children of Indian immigrants often unconsciously recreate the parent-child dynamic at work because we’re hard-wired to respect adults and seek approval when we’re young. I’ve definitely wasted time looking for external validation from senior people when I should have trusted my own judgement and it’s a cycle I’ve worked hard to break as my career progressed.
● Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
My team at viagogo – Oli Wheeler, Sarah Slater and Zoe Aresti. When you work at a brand that attracts controversy, your friendships are forged in fire. They’re all brilliantly talented operators from whom I learned a lot and they’ve all gone on to succeed in different ways.
● What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
The best PR people combine creativity, commercial acumen and cool-headed counsel. As a client, I want to know how your brilliant campaign idea will impact my customers and what happens if it doesn’t work.
● What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram is my happy place. It’s all about escapism for me, whether that’s food, travel, fashion, jewellery, spaniels…
● Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Caitlin Moran. She started writing when she was 16 and we’re around the same age, so I could really relate. Growing up, she provided a window into a frank, funny, fearless world where you could be yourself unapologetically. She continues not to give a sh*t what anyone thinks of her, while caring deeply about the stuff that really matters.
● What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be brave! My dad always used to say ‘a coward dies a thousand times before his death’. To me, bravery is all about taking risks – and resilience and recovery if you fail.
● Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2019?
Fail: It surely has to be Prince Andrew’s jaw-dropping interview about his links to Jeffrey Epstein. As the peerless Marina Hyde put it: how badly must you do your job for your own mother to fire you?
Yay: Greta Thunberg hitching a ride across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat to speak at the UN climate action summit. Wow.
● Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
It’s a fallacy that I ‘get’ diversity because I’m a person of colour. I don’t represent my race because Indians, like everyone else, vary by socio-economic circumstances, upbringing, education, beliefs and so on. It’s important to acknowledge it’s not one size fits all when it comes to diversity. Nor should diversity be a free pass. It’s a complex conversation that we’re only just starting.
The immediate priority is surely to remove barriers, find brilliant people from different backgrounds and make them aware the same opportunities are open to them, even if they follow a different path to get there. How? Well, at MoneySuperMarket, we’ve started by partnering with The Prince’s Trust to offer internships to young people so they can experience working in marketing and PR for a fast-moving digital brand. In the wider PR industry, I admire what Warren Johnson is doing with WX to transform the talent pipeline and I’ll be interested to see if and how clients embrace it.
Doyel is one of 18 mentors for the 2020 BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. Applications for mentees are now open – click here to find out more. The closing date for applications is Friday 14 February 2020.
Connect with Doyel on LinkedIn.