Following the success of our #PRProSeries, we continue exploring the careers of the most powerful communications pros around the world today... Our Associate Director Amy Hayer sat down with Andrew Harrison, Managing Director of Healthcare at Hanover, to find out how he made it in the industry, what it takes to be a successful leader, and what's coming in the future of comms.
How did you get into communications?
I found it exciting and intellectually stimulating. I actually got into it by accident, but that’s why I chose to stay. It’s just constantly changing.
What personal attributes do you think have helped you in the course of your career?
I’ve always had a love of language and a love of words. I think that’s one of the main tools you use. I also love learning. When you work in an agency, you’re constantly learning new things.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I’m not sure if it’s something I’ve overcome, it’s actually a daily challenge – finding great people.
Have there been any crucial moments that have changed the course of your career?
Being offered a three-month role in the press office in the UK Department of Health. It was a risk to leave the permanent job that I was in at the time, but I grabbed it and never looked back.
Who has been the most inspiring person you have worked with?
There have been a lot of people who I’ve found inspiring. Someone who I still think about is the Director at the Department of Health, Romola Christopherson. She is one of the people who brought me to Hanover. I still sometimes think “What would Romola do?” when I get into a tough situation.
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
The thing that always comes back to me is just find something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, why are you doing it?
What do you think it takes to be a successful leader in 2016?
There are a few core attributes. You need passion. You need energy. And I think you need optimism in order to be able to inspire the team and lead the work. You also need to never give up and believe in what you’re doing. Then you’ll carry your team and they’ll follow you.
In 10 years’ time, what do you think will be the biggest changes in the global communications industry?
It’s hard to get your crystal ball out when you think how much it has changed in the last 10 years. However, I think it will be the next wave of how people actually consume information and content. It is hard to predict that, and the challenge will be how to stay with consumers. We’re only in the foothills of the whole digital, social agenda at the moment so it will be just really trying to stay on top of what comes next.
What three words best describe you?
Thoughtful. Honest. Passionate.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I find it quite easy because I’ve always loved healthcare. It’s intellectually fascinating and it adds something to society. I can draw a lot of energy out of all the things that are going on in the area in which I work. Otherwise, I’d just say working with great people helps keep me motivated. Agencies are brilliant for that because you’ve constantly got such energetic people coming through.
If you weren’t in communications, what would you do?
I struggle with this one because I’ve chosen to be in healthcare comms. It’s difficult to think what I’d do other than this because it’s something I’m so passionate about.
What excites you most about the year ahead?
There is so much happening. The political landscape - not just in the UK, but throughout Europe, the US, and beyond - combined with different ways of connecting and communicating on multiple platforms provides endless challenges. Hanover is undergoing so much growth; we have recently opened new offices in Dublin and the Middle East, which offer exciting new opportunities in those markets. Working with our existing teams in London and Brussels, or further afield through our extended network of partner agencies. Finding talented people to help us with this growth and build new practices, new services, in new regions is extremely exciting.
More about Hanover
Hanover is a full-service agency across communications, policy, public affairs which focuses on reputation, market access and the commercial success of our clients. They are rapidly growing at the moment, having doubled in size over the last few years.