Four years at Babel: Some favourite things
This month marks four years at Babel for me. It’s crazy to take a step back and think it’s been an entire Olympiad since I was applying, or that I’ve now done the equivalent of a full term in office. 2018 Declan would be very surprised to know the 2022 version knows what Open RAN is, and a bit more surprised to know he doesn’t actually mind it.
A lot has changed in my time here thus far, outside of the obvious impact of the pandemic – I wear glasses now! My parents still don’t really understand what I do for a living though, so I guess it’s nice to know some things will never change.
The lovely Babel bunch thought it would be nice to use this milestone to have me reflect on the most enjoyable parts of working here so far. I haven’t had the chance to work with cream-coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels yet, so instead, here are a few of my favourite things from the past four years at Babel.
Mobile World Congress (MWC)
As we approach the next one (all being well) in a few weeks, it feels fitting to start with MWC – one of the world’s largest telco tradeshows. Of course, part of its inclusion in my list of favourite things is the event’s host city of Barcelona itself; the gothic architecture, the food, the chance to be by the water. Not exactly a bad place for an annual work trip.
But I think the reason I’ve included MWC as my first highlight is that it has been emblematic of my entire Babel experience. I started here in January 2018 as a Junior Consultant – essentially the graduate rung on the ladder – and a little under two months later I was heading to Barcelona for a hugely significant tradeshow for our agency.
Now, I absolutely know part of that was luck of the draw. I started with a portfolio of telco clients that were all exhibiting, so it made sense to go, even just as a learning experience to get a taste of it for when 2019 rolled around. I did get a taste for the show, but as it turned out, my role went far beyond making up numbers. I was trusted to go and staff the briefings I had secured; meet the clients I was building relationships with; and immerse myself in the technology we work with every day.
It was a reward in many ways for my hard work, so each year when MWC comes again it reminds me that our ethos here has always been; if you’re ready, you’re ready. There’s been no arduous progression process, no waiting in line for someone else to move before you can. When you’re ready, you progress. MWC always feels like a nice reminder of the trust placed in me so early on in my career, which I’ve hopefully repaid since.
Okay so this is a bit of a cop-out answer, but I think it’s still important to recognise that liking the people you work with outside the office is a big factor in working well together inside the office – or the spare room as it might be at the moment.
Anyone reading this who is already in PR will know every agency talks up their “early finishes on Fridays so we can go to the pub.” But socials aren’t just about putting a tab behind the bar (although this is always welcome). They’re about getting to know each other better, blowing off a bit of steam and maybe having a bit of healthy competition here and there *cough Paul and Ian cough.*
We’ve done some pretty good ones in my time here. It would be easy to say our company-wide trip to Amsterdam was my favourite – and it was pretty great in all fairness – but Go Karting and Jen’s baby shower on the roof are also right up there.
PR is about people, and I’ve been lucky to work with more than a handful I’d happily hang out with.
Now back to more ‘work related’ favourites (rolls eyes). Believe it or not, it’s not all trips abroad and tenpin bowling. We do have to make sure we deliver campaigns as well. That means staying at the forefront of the industry and constantly looking to top up the skills in our arsenal.
Babel achieved the PRCA’s highest number of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points last year, which in other words means we were the most trained agency out of anybody, anywhere.
“Top of the PRCA CPD league, you’ll never sing that” and so on.
I hear a lot of people say they “really enjoy learning” and I used to describe myself in that way too. But as I’m getting older, I’ve realised what I actually enjoy is being what my Scottish Mum would call “a smart alec.”
Working at a place that continually pushes us to develop, grow and learn new things allows me to scratch that itch.
Punching the air
As I’ve progressed at Babel, I’ve been able to do more and more cool things. Running media training for clients, delivering a workshop for students at my old University, hosting a podcast – all great. However, the best part of the job has always been, and always will be that feeling of landing a great piece of coverage and punching the air in celebration.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a feature piece in the Washington Post that took a lot of work to get over the line, or an issues jump comment in the trades where you know you beat others to the punch. The feeling is the same.
I’m not sure if I have a favourite piece of coverage, so let’s just say it’s the next one.
Thanks for four years Babel, here’s to the next chapter.