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A lesson on the importance of workplace culture by James Davey

What role has Hawthorn played in helping you to grow professionally and personally?

It’s played an enormous role in my professional development – perhaps unsurprisingly, as I joined as a graduate and have now worked here for the best part of a decade! But it’s not just a case of time served. Through that entire period, I’ve been lucky enough to work with and learn from really smart, capable, interesting people – both colleagues and clients – and to do varied work that has been consistently challenging and intellectually engaging. Personally, it’s been hugely formative too – as well as a lot of fun.

What have you learnt working in a fast-growing business and the changes this brings?

In a smaller business, you can more clearly trace the connection between what you’re doing and the performance of the company. It breeds an added sense of investment – building longstanding client relationships or winning new business palpably helps the company to grow.

It’s also served as an object lesson in the importance of workplace culture. So much about the business has changed from when I was the sixth or seventh employee in the company, when it was barely a year old, to where we are today. A lot of work has gone into ensuring that growth doesn’t come at the expense of what made the business succeed in the first place – the people, the environment, and the quality of work.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I considered sports journalism but didn’t go much further than a couple of bylines in the Essex Chronicle and some partisan match reports for our football club’s programme. Then as a student binge-watching the likes of The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Shield, I thought about TV writing.

I didn’t envisage myself working in communications – like many people, I knew almost nothing about it as a career. Nor would I have expected to focus on financial services, as someone whose academic interests were in political history. It’s been a happy accident to end up where I am!

What advice would you give someone who is looking to work at Hawthorn?

No matter which sector or communications discipline you focus on, it’s beneficial to have a well-rounded understanding of the wider news agenda, as well as both the media and political landscapes. I advocate carving out time every day to solely focus on reading the news from a range of sources that work for you. What we do can often be fast-moving and quite intensive, and you can be so wrapped up in the detail of what you’re working on, that it’s deceptively easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Tell us about your hobbies / how do you like to spend your free time?

I love playing football – I’m regularly corralling colleagues into signing up for our office 5-aside games – and am a big Arsenal fan. Sports aside, I enjoy watching films, reading modern history, playing chess, and doing pub quizzes.

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