Career stories

A taste of working abroad through PLMR’s Leadership Exchange Programme

by Niamh Mercer Danher

As a former language student, living and working abroad has always been one of my goals. Although my degree didn’t take me abroad and my memory of how to conjugate verbs faded, my interest in other cultures and ways of living and working has always remained. Last year, through PLMR’s membership of the Global Communications Alliance (GCA), I was lucky enough to get to experience another way of working through our Leadership Exchange Programme.

The GCA is a group of independent corporate and public affairs agencies spanning the UK and Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australia and more. One of the benefits of working at a GCA agency is having the opportunity to take part in the Leadership Exchange Programme, which allows senior consultants to be immersed in another agency’s work for two weeks, exchanging ways of working, ideas and advice.

In 2022, PLMR sent three colleagues to partner agencies – enabling me to travel to Ottawa, Canada to work with the incredible team at Bluesky Strategy Group. I had never been to Canada but have clients who currently operate in North America and are impacted by current affairs in Canada and the U.S., so was eager to see how a corporate comms agency dealt with their own media and political landscapes. I knew the trip would be incredibly interesting, but I was blown away by how much I learnt and was able to experience in just a couple of weeks.

From insightful client debriefs from our brilliant colleagues at Bluesky, to attending think tank events discussing regulation in some of my client’s key sectors, no two days on this trip were the same. Some of my other trip highlights included going to my first ice hockey game, getting a tour of the Canadian Parliament and seeing Prime Minister Trudeau take on Canada’s equivalent of PMQs, and attending Parliamentary staffer networking events with a former PLMR colleague who now works for the Canadian Government.

The UK and Canada share a lot of cultural similarities, and the fact that their political system mirrors ours certainly made for an easy integration, but the success of the trip was primarily down to Bluesky’s gracious hosting and generosity. Like all agencies in the GCA, Bluesky’s team are all truly experts in their field and, through our many conversations during my secondment, opened my eyes to fresh perspectives on how we can be the best consultants possible, and how we can go above and beyond to enhance our clients’ success.

Being part of PLMR Group, and taking part in the Leadership Exchange Programme, will not only allow you to expand your skills as a consultant, but gain new colleagues and friends in places all over the world. We are only made richer by exchanging ideas and insight from our different backgrounds and experiences, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity which has been a real career highlight. I look forward to continuing to implement learnings and share knowledge gained from this secondment with clients and colleagues alike.

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