THE PRIVILEGE OF COMPARING

Lauren Milden

For the past two weeks I’ve been on secondment at Marie Stopes International. It has been a profoundly useful experience which has allowed me to compare and contrast two communications teams operating in different fields and to contemplate the variables that make up a work environment and a communications strategy.

Some of the changes I’ve experienced during the past two weeks have been somewhat aesthetic – replacing a skyline dominated by the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye with the BT Tower and Fitzroy Square, with its abundance of RSA blue plaques. Seeing sweets from Afghanistan brought in from a recent business trip as opposed to seeing the weekly delivery of fresh fruit.

Some of the changes took me a while to identify – working in a quieter office, for example. Some of the differences struck me immediately – not completing a timesheet. Anyone who knows me knows that I seize any opportunity to create a tasklist and record all my subsequent actions. I’m not kidding. In fifteen minutes I will be checking off ‘compose blog’ from my personal to do list.

Of course, many elements of my secondment were familiar – media monitoring, following Government announcements, tea rounds, team meetings and debating whether there was a real alternative to Prêt for lunch.

Many of the differences were simply that – different, as opposed to superior or inferior. Appropriate for the work of one client, but perhaps not another. And it occurred to me that part of an employee’s toolkit should be the willingness to not only adapt, but to embrace change and commit to seeing and bringing to fruition the best outcome, no matter the circumstances.

As I head back towards the Thames and Church House, I am reflecting on the lovely individuals that I’ve met, the many things that I’ve learnt about family planning and working for an international NGO and the importance of challenging that to which you have become accustomed.

My sincere thanks to all those at Marie Stopes International and PLMR who have made this valuable opportunity possible and enjoyable.

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