Jaye Thompson

Jaye Thompson

Senior Director, Global Public Relations, Tiffany and Co.

Can you tell me how you got started in your field?

‘I began my career actually working in a totally different field of the comms world – my first job out of college was an entry-level position at a financial PR agency. It really didn’t take very long for me to realise the world of high finance was not for me, the cultural fit just wasn’t there, and that factor is so important, I think. At the time, my partner was working with the famous fashion stylist, Isabella Blow – and it was her who took me under her wing, introduced me to a key first contact in the fashion world who became my boss at a small yet very dynamic British label. It was interesting to be thrown in at the deep end, and there was a steep learning curve and long hours, but I didn’t mind because I loved every single minute of that time.’

Name three things that have defined your career

‘Having a clear plan of not only what job I wanted, but what job I wanted after that – the plan is super important; being kind and fair, because good things happen to people who take care of others in a work context; and honesty – there’s nothing worse than a slippery and dishonest PR.’

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

‘Getting transferred to the NYC headquarters of Tiffany in 2017. Having the opportunity to live and work in New York has been a pivotal moment in my career.’

What is the biggest factor that has helped your success?

‘Having a robust network – and I don’t mean that in the sense of just a random group of people to call upon. Throughout my career, I have had the very good fortune of working with some of the most supportive and interesting people I’ve ever met. I’ve never been embarrassed to ask for help, guidance and advice. Keep those people close and give something back to them so when it’s your turn for help, that comes straight back to you; and also make sure you have one or two life-long mentors in that network. I’ve never been embarrassed to ask for help, guidance and advice.’

What challenges have you faced in your career?

‘There were two instances in my career where I realised I was absolutely in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I strongly believe that working in toxic environments with equally toxic colleagues can be a truly depressing thing to endure. Fortunately, in both of those cases, I also learnt a lot about my own standards, about what it means to be professional and having a belief that something truly better can be round the corner.’

Can you name a person who has had a significant impact on you as a leader?

‘I spent almost five years working at an amazing agency, The Communications Store (now renamed Science, Magic Inc). My boss there was an incredible gentleman, Daniel Marks. He’s one of the most innovative and creative comms specialists I’ve ever known, and a great leader. A marvellous strategist, an inquiring mind, and he has been generous with advice and guidance throughout my career. When I’m in a tight spot at work, I still sometimes close my eyes and ask myself: “What would Daniel do?”’

What is the most important risk you have taken?

‘Moving to New York City. I had a very comfortable and easy existence back home in the UK, and making the decision to leave for a while was definitely a surprising move at that point in my life. Now, almost four years later, what I’ve learnt here, overcoming the challenges that obviously happen when you move country, and expanding my professional and personal horizons, has been an opportunity I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.’

Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up?

‘I mentioned earlier on that I have had a couple of brief spells working in terrible environments. One of those particularly was so dreadful, and my boss at the time so bizarre, that I really wanted to throw in the towel, retreat away and figure out a change of direction. I was feeling undermined, undervalued and confused. However, I spent some time deep-thinking and consulting colleagues outside of the organisation, and realised the problem wasn’t mine, it was all theirs, and I swiftly put in place an exit strategy. I learnt through that episode that there is nothing as powerful as owning your confidence and using it to get agency back over the situation and momentum to move forwards. Move on and move up!’

How do you see growth? What does it look like for you in the different stages of your career?

‘Growth for me means so much more than just the incessant drum beat of “get the promotion, ask for the pay-rise”. As I’ve matured and held several different positions, growth means making sure that each move you make through your career gives you meaning. I truly believe just chasing the pay-cheque really does not get you happiness. One has to give so much to their jobs now, it has to mean something on a fundamental level. I ask myself questions like: “Am I learningnew things by staying in this job?”, “Does this role have real purpose and value?” and “Can I tangibly feel that I’m valued by the organisation?” If the answers to questions like these is “yes”, then I think you’re finding progress and growth inyour chosen job or field. If the answers are perennially “no”, then it is time to look elsewhere.’

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

‘I really don’t think I can say I would change anything. Even the mistakes I’ve made along the way I now see as valuable experiences with hindsight.’

How do you manifest creativity in your role?

‘Surround yourself with curious, intelligent and open-minded teams. Don’t be afraid to say the first idea that pops into your head – even the craziest notion can spark off an exciting dialogue – and always have fun with it. Creativity isn’t aburden or a scary part of the job, it’s the part to enjoy and explore all sorts of things. A journey!’

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

‘Stop worrying and accept that you can’t control everything, so enjoy what you have and let the rest fall into place.’

What does greatness look like?

‘Reaching a place of contentment, combined with enjoying the joy of who you are rather than looking around and continually comparing yourself to others.’

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