Nadin Vernon on female leadership: “I am a firm believer in mentorships”

As part of our series of posts celebrating women in PR around Oxfordshire, we’ve caught up with Nadin Vernon, a local female leader engaged with AMEC as Vice-Chair of its European Chapter and Strategy Consultant at PRIME Research.

With your 20 years of communications and research experience, you seem passionate about PR measurement and evaluation. Can you tell us a bit about your current role and career history?

As a Strategy Consultant at PRIME Research, I co-lead our UK operations in Oxford. This entails overseeing key client relationships with a focus on global partners, driving growth as well as developing our management teams. I’m also involved in thought leadership and am engaged with AMEC as Vice-Chair of its European Chapter.

Like many others, I fell into the sector by chance. I was at university when I took a freelance position as a coder with Report International. From there, I worked in fieldwork management, insights and analytics, client services and corporate development. I worked my way up at Report International and its successive companies, Salience Insight and CARMA and left in 2016 as the Vice President of Client Services. I then joined PRIME at the beginning of 2017 and it’s been a great journey so far with many exciting developments ahead.

Have you been involved in any mentorships, programmes or women-led groups which have helped you to develop your career?

I’m a firm believer in mentorships, no matter what stage of your career you are in. This can either come in the form of a structured programme or as part of a less formalised exchange. I’ve experienced both and can only recommend them as they are a great forum to share stories and learn how others have overcome challenges. With a one-to-one set-up, it also means that you know someone listens and asks the right questions to help you solve issues by yourself.

How would you describe your own experience of being a woman in the workplace? Any particular instances where it has been a disadvantage or advantage?

I’ve become much more aware of being a woman in the workplace in recent years of my career, as I’ve been moving into senior leadership roles. Naturally, I questioned the fact that my C-Suite superiors were almost always entirely male as I can see so many talented women out there who would make amazing CEOs. Isn’t it funny that Revlon has only just appointed its first female CEO in its 86-year history?

I’ve definitely experienced some challenging moments and am all the more happier and proud to be one of two women running PRIME’s UK operation now – this appointment has absolutely been one of the highlights of my career.

What do you think can be done to make the workplace more accessible and inclusive for women? 

First and foremost, the government needs to address the gender pay gap and rethink its policies on parental leave, only then will we see a cultural change as well. Traditional structures have a lot to answer for. Look at Scandinavia for example, I consider it the benchmark for gender equality. For the past nine years, Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s gender equality index; the UK comes in at 15th. In Iceland men get at least three months’ paternity leave, and 90% of them take it. In Sweden, each parent is entitled to 240 of 480 days of paid parental leave, meaning there is an immediate equal footing.

At CISION [PRIME Research is a CISION company – Editor’s note], we recently launched Empower, an initiative for encouraging diversity in the workplace. The more these programmes can be worked into everyday culture, the better, as they’ll proactively present opportunities that eventually lead to an increase in women in senior leadership positions. That would be a real tangible result.

What advice would you give to the women in PR?

Be curious, always continue to learn, work hard, have the courage to speak up and confidence in your ability. Get out of your comfort zone, be present, and if you see opportunities, don’t be afraid to just ask. Remember, opportunity only dances with those already on the dance floor!

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