Clients, interims and friends of Comma Partners gathered on Tuesday evening this week to celebrate with Virginia Hicks as she marks a decade in business, recruiting and mentoring communications interims . And what a decade it has been!
When Comma Partners began back in 2007, they were in good company: it was the year that Twitter and Facebook went global; Apple launched the iPhone; Amazon released the Kindle; Google had just bought You Tube and Airbnb was about to take off.
A community of like-minded comms professionals
So what is Comma? The name as a noun means pause for thought – something communicators champion. As a network and community representing 100s of interims across the UK and Europe, Comma’s interims have delivered a huge variety of change projects with campaigns reaching thousands of employees in some amazing global brands. Experienced interims combine their considerable skills and experience with diplomacy, energy, flexibility and a sense of humour. What was evident from the very many guests at the event, was the genuine respect and warm affection they hold for Virginia. Being so much more than a recruiter, she has always seen her business as a community of like-minded professionals, and a welcome place for them to come together for support, to learn and to challenge.
The changing world of work
As guest speaker, Tim Johns, (previously VP Global Corporate Communications at Unilever) an expert in communications, coaching & change, and long time friend of Comma, shared briefly three observations. Firstly he touched on the changing nature of work. In a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world, the workplace is changing. Globalisation, digital disruption, AI, geopolitical instability, an ageing population, climate change etc all have tremendous impact on how we think about work. Yet, for so many the workplace is still characterised by the old familiar patterns of stress, presenteeism, hierarchies, silos and declining productivity. Forward-thinking businesses are looking at radical ways to address some of these issues such as replacing hierarchy and bureaucracy with holocracy while flexible and agile working methods are seen as good ways to encourage the creativity, collaboration and partnerships we need to remain relevant in the gig economy.
His second point was in praise of independence, focusing on the principle that work is something we do and not somewhere we go. The notion of a job for life is dead, so too pretty much is the idea of five jobs in a lifetime. Millennials and GenY are more likely to have five jobs at once making their own luck, valuing a balance between security and autonomy, risk and reward. But Tim also made much of the fact that we still need a sense of community, we need friends, we need somewhere we belong and somewhere we can learn and thrive together in this sharing economy.
Ten years ago Virginia Hicks recognised the changing market and set about creating her own luck. Seeing the real benefits in being independent, she has built a network through which Comma interims have the opportunity to share and have a community. Happy birthday Comma!
Clients and interims can find out more about Comma Partners at www.commapartners.com