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Learning Through Great Conversations by Tilly Roylance

What drew you to working at Hawthorn?

I found Hawthorn on my university careers page a few years ago, and two things really stood out at the time: the opportunity to experience different businesses and organisations at once, and the variety of the company team itself. I didn’t know the industry or what a typical day might be like, but I’d enjoyed working in a diverse, international cohort during my master’s course, and I was sold on the chance to work again with such a range of people and backgrounds. Since I joined in 2021, our team has grown and so has the variety of people to connect with and learn from.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The best thing about working in this industry is the easy access to interesting and entrepreneurial people. Regular face time with clients and journalists in different sectors has created so many unique opportunities to grill them on genuinely interesting topics – new applications for AI; cultural transformation in the Middle East; the mechanics of the energy transition. Being able to initiate and witness these sorts of casual interviews almost every day is a privilege, and I really like that conversations and connection are the real currency in our line of work.

At Hawthorn specifically, I appreciate the value that’s placed on autonomy. There’s naturally a big emphasis on collaboration – but equally, always room to think independently, take ownership of projects and push your own approach if it has merit. 

What’s been the most unexpected lesson you’ve learnt in your time so far at Hawthorn?

One key lesson has been the importance of reflecting on success. I think others would likely agree that it’s easy to get caught up with the next ambition when something goes well, without considering what worked or just feeling good for a while about the result.

At Hawthorn, time is dedicated to talking in person about our achievements and sharing lessons and tips when things go well. Recognition is always gratifying after a challenging effort. I think the learning has been to allow some time for this part and not brush it off so quickly.

What’s been your proudest achievement at Hawthorn so far, and how did it come about?

I really enjoy helping clients promote work that challenges their industry status quo in some way. One example was supporting a university with the launch of a first-of-its-kind research programme, aiming to completely reinvigorate the traditional approach to domestic violence detection and prevention in the UK. It was a very important and, in some ways, complex piece of news to pitch to journalists, who we found were just as invested in the news and keen to do it justice in their coverage.

Are there any new skills you’re trying to learn?

As some will know very well, I’ve been studying a bit of Spanish since last summer, which has reminded me how humbling the learning process can be. One of our assignments was to spark a spontaneous conversation with staff at our local Zara about clothing sizes which still makes me cringe. But it’s helpful to practise with a few Spanish speakers in the office (thanks Zoe), and hopefully one day it all pays off.

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