Lessons from Leaders: Keeping up with the speed of change - and the ability to move quickly enough to remain effective - is one of the biggest challenges in the PR industry, says Tara Rogers-Ellis, Mojo PR
In addition to being the founder of Mojo PR, a leading communications agency in the region, Tara Rogers-Ellis is a committed mentor and coach who embodies the values of ‘giving back’ through sharing her wisdom with the leaders of tomorrow
What’s your business about?
My business partner Louise Mezzina and I started Mojo PR 10 years ago, as part of Mojo Group, to be able to provide fully integrated marketing and communications consultancy and solutions. We have a two-fold mission: firstly, to help brands present themselves in such a compelling way that their customers, staff, investors or fans fall in love with them (hence the name Mojo) and secondly, to help develop the next generation of communications professionals in the Middle East.
What’s the single biggest challenge facing your industry today?
The speed of change and the ability to shape ourselves quickly enough to remain effective. The way people consume information has changed, and in order for us to maintain the right visibility for our clients we have to have the agility and skills to deliver their messages on new platforms and in different ways – and convince our clients to change too.
How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?
We have a number of ways: providing lots of work spaces beyond desks, getting out of the office to attend events that are not necessarily focused on our topic, talking, bouncing ideas off each other. One spark of an insight from anyone is the seed for a great idea.
What is the most important in your company – its mission, core values or vision?
All are important, but probably our core values – we are pretty rigorous in adhering to them. They are to always give more in value than we take in payment, to be transparent in our business and to put our team first above all. I love the work we do, what we stand for and the kind of business we have created. I love the amazing talents in our team, and I enjoy seeing them grow and flourish, often without them realising it.
What’s your decision-making process?
Quick, unless we’re hiring – then we’re careful and slow. I’m very fortunate to have an incredible business partner in Louise – we balance each other out in all areas. We have the perfect mix of analytical and intuitive – and we recognise and implement both.
Has social networking has impacted your organisation or yourself?
It has impacted both, in the best of ways. I have met people from all around the world, learnt new things, recruited, gained clients, pitched stories and helped people in so many ways.
Can you name a person who has had an impact on you as a leader?
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, with whom I worked both as a client and as an employee. He taught me consistency and demonstrated fairness and respect for everyone. If Colm was around the corner and you heard him greet someone, you wouldn’t know if he was speaking to a cleaner or Sheikh Ahmed. His sense of humanity has never wavered. And of course, that Irish charm – he was able to tell someone to get lost in such a charming way that they never realised it until long after they’d left his office.
What would you say to a new employee about the culture of your organisation?
This is an environment where we support each other, respect each other, and have as much fun together as we can.
When faced with two equally qualified job candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
The one who uses the word “I” the least. We look for team players, who understand that results or achievements are rarely made by one person only.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I started my first business when I was 14 – making and selling Christmas cakes! I put an ad in our local newspaper and took orders, making everything from scratch, including sugar bells and icing holly leaves.
What’s one productivity tip you wish everyone else knew?
Make a to-do list, but don’t expect to finish it every day – you’ll make yourself very unhappy otherwise. Rather make the list, then prioritise three or four “must-do-today” tasks, and one “I will feel better when I’ve done this” task. And then roll over the rest of the list to the next day.
What are three characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?
Empathy, consistency and fairness.
What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
There is great strength in leading from behind – learning from your team members and contributing support and direction when they need it. Leadership is not about giving orders or instructions that need to be followed without question – and you alone will not have all the answers, nor do you need to.
What is your most prized possession?
Without sounding ridiculously clichéd, I would have to say my health. As I grow older I am much more mindful of what an incredible machine we have been given, and without health we jeopardise the rest of our prized possessions.
What is the biggest luxury in your life?
Being able to travel, and see other parts of the world.
Quote to live your life by?
One I learnt from my husband relatively late in life – “progress not perfection”.
What do you work toward in your free time?
Keeping my mind open to new ideas, and helping others wherever I can.
How do you manage a large company and still find time for things like family?
It’s easier now that my children are grown up, but it’s always been about integration. Work life balance for me meant enabling the two to mix rather than trying to keep them totally separate. Family is respected and supported at Mojo and we encourage and enable our team members to take the time to attend family events. Work will always be there, but a four-year old’s end of year concert only happens once.
Finish this sentence, “the world would be a better place if only…”
We took time to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes before we reacted to something. If we can get out of our own head long enough to step into the other person’s perspective, we can be more empathetic and respond accordingly. That will help our world become a kinder, more compassionate place.