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Recharging and growing by Charlotte Juckes

How did you feel about the opportunity to have a Sabbatical? What did you do with your Sabbatical?
I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to take a one-month, paid sabbatical. It’s a generous way for the company to thank you for five years of service and to provide individuals the opportunity to take a proper break, reset, and return fully refreshed. It’s a fantastic perk that I know many of my clients and friends are envious of!

As an avid traveller, I knew I wanted to use the time off to get away. Unfortunately, my sabbatical year landed in 2020 when, as we all know, travel was somewhat non-existent. Hawthorn kindly allowed me to push it into 2021. Although my original plans of travelling across America for a month were curtailed by the still-in-place US border restrictions, I was lucky enough to spend time in Mauritius and Seville. I also went with a friend to a retreat in the UK, where we practiced yoga, had lots of fresh air, and created some (questionable) pottery.

Overall, the sabbatical was a brilliant opportunity to take a month to have some adventures, explore, rest, play, and reconnect. The kind of work we do and the nature of the 24/7 news cycle means we work at an incredibly fast pace. This excitement is part of what I love about the job, but on the flip side, it can be pretty hard to fully switch off. After a month away, I came back feeling energized, inspired, and ready to take on the world!

What makes working at Hawthorn unique? How have you managed the continual change that you’ve experienced being part of a fast-growing business?
I joined Hawthorn back in 2015 as an intern fresh out of uni. At the time, there were eight or so staff members, all working in a tiny room with a single conference call line and a meeting room that we shared with another company (occasionally leading to awkward moments as a result). It was hard work, scrappy, and a lot of fun. Fast-forward to today and Hawthorn has nearly 10x the number of people working here and is one of the most exciting consultancies in London, working with some vast and industry-defining clients.

We’ve certainly been through some fundamental shifts through that time, and I’ve learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of being part of a fast-growing business – something I’ve drawn on when working with entrepreneurs and business leaders. It hasn’t always been easy, but ultimately, navigating the difficult moments is where I’ve learned the most, and I’d much rather be challenged than bored.

As the business has evolved, it’s been essential to maintain a “go with the flow” attitude, embracing the opportunities that come from constant change and not being too precious to pitch in wherever needed. At the same time, you must stay true to the values and core beliefs that define a company. In Hawthorn’s case, these are ambition, an entrepreneurial spirit, intellectual curiosity, and a focus on impact over process – all of which hold as true today as they did in 2015.

What advice would you give someone who is looking to work at Hawthorn?
Enjoy the opportunity to learn about some diverse sectors and issues (I’ve worked on everything from cosmetic surgery to private equity to luxury fashion) and ask as many questions as possible. Working in strategic communications, we have the opportunity to see behind the curtain at the highest levels of a business, and we get to know about the stories defining the news agenda before they break – something which is appealing to anyone with a sense of curiosity about the way the world works.

Don’t forget to have a sense of humour! Our work is strategic, fast-paced, and frequently has far-reaching impacts, but the nature of communications means there are often some very funny moments along the way. Be passionate about the work you do, but don’t take yourself too seriously – have fun with it!

What has been your most memorable experience with Hawthorn?
I’ve had the opportunity to travel widely with Hawthorn: to South East Asia, the U.S., the Middle East, Africa, and across Europe. Those trips are always special and a real opportunity to learn, particularly when you’re working with local teams from very different cultures.

I’m also hugely proud of some high-impact projects we’ve done that have contributed to tackling the gender imbalance in UK entrepreneurship. I’m hugely passionate about gender equality, and it’s been brilliant to play a small role in supporting more women to start and scale businesses. 

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