Rebecca is a successful, sought-after CEO, and it’s not just a matter of chance that she’s carved out a space for herself in the Investor Comms segment, but a series of light bulb moments – let’s call them fairly light moments – that have led her to success.
You can hear Rebecca speak at our September event, Escalation & remediation: In conversation with seasoned crisis communication leaders
Rebecca Wilson, CEO WE Buchan
Can you describe a major ‘lights on’ moment in your career when you learnt a powerful lesson that significantly changed your approach?
I don’t have that one cathartic moment that has defined my career. I’m a strong believer in the power of incremental change and the compounding impact that a multitude of smaller moments can have on a career. You could say I’m more a room full of fairy lights rather than a room with only one light bulb.
What was the background to the ‘lights on’ moment?
Some of those fairy light moments were nonetheless defining. In 2002 my partner and I had the opportunity to move to Sydney for his work. At the time Buchan didn’t have a Sydney office and whilst it was in the medium term plan I approached Tom Buchan and suggested I move to Sydney to set up the Sydney office. In Tom’s famous pragmatic way, he said “sure, I’ll give you a year and my 100% support but if it doesn’t work we’ll part ways”. I never even considered it wouldn’t work. That experience gave me the confidence and experience to build something from the ground up. Another fairy light moment was when I approached Tom to become his partner when I was 6 months pregnant with my first child, I put forward a (pretty strong) proposition as to why he should, and let’s just say it worked out brilliantly.
What was the major lesson you learned?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, but always have the business case and strong rationale to support it. If you’ve done the prep and fully considered the “ask”, the likelihood of getting a yes is high, because if it hadn’t stacked up, I wouldn’t have presented it.
How do you believe other communicators could benefit from your experience and the lesson you’ve learned?
I’ve never set out to be “something in particular” and discovered more retrospectively, that I had a particular entrepreneurial drive within my DNA. Meaning I acted like a business owner even when I was a young account manager.
My advice to younger practitioners is to “stake it, own it, make it” –
Stake It: Put yourself forward, own something in your organization and be known for it.
Own It: Be committed to anything you put your hand up for or are asked to do – even if it’s arranging the weekly social event.
Make It: Pursue the work you love to do and develop a product around it. Creating opportunity is rewarding and very rarely results in nothing.
How have you applied that lesson in your career and what has the impact been?
My predisposition is to say yes, and make it happen. That doesn’t mean it’s always successful. Learning from your failures and mistakes is one of the most valuable inputs to exceptional consultants. My mistakes are many and are an undeniable element of our success as a business.