First steps as a freelance consultant

Lucy Davies

Hello. I’m Lucy Davies, although you may previously have known me as Lucy Tones. These days I have a thriving business and I work (mainly with corporate clients) as a marketing and communications consultant. And yes, my passion is for internal communications — but increasingly I also work in marketing and social media too.

 

How did I get here? Well it kinda all goes back to the day I started a temp job in a small business back in my home town (Winchester, Hampshire). I’d just got home from a post-university self-indulgent backpacking trip to the southern hemisphere. I had a communications degree under my belt, no money, and no clarity on what to do next.

 

And that’s why I signed up with a temp agency, earning not more than minimum wage to help with envelope stuffing, filing, photocopying … I even spent a day as a tea lady with a huge urn on a trolley delivering fresh brews to thirsty office workers.

Until one day I was sent to help a small HR department and I ran into a problem. The manager there was previously an army sergeant major who barked orders at me all morning. It was miserable and it only took me four hours to decide enough was enough. I’d needed a catalyst to push me out of the temping comfort zone and make my long-awaited move to the big smoke. Then and there I rang a recruitment agency in London, got an interview to work at the BBC, went home to pack and by that night I was couch surfing with friends while I settled in to London life.

How my secretarial job at the BBC became an internal comms role

I’d landed on my feet. I was excited to work for the Beeb and felt thrilled to be PA to a lovely chap who back then was Exec Producer in BBC Science. These days he’s better known as a presenter and writer, but to me Michael Mosley was simply a thoughtful and incredibly bright boss. Time passed and I lived the high life. Work was easy, social life incredible. It was all good.

But change was coming. The BBC was introducing a new finance system and boy oh boy it was unpopular. Our inboxes started to fill up with emails cascaded by various ‘leaders’ — jargon-filled, generic, and the only ‘local’ tailored content would be the negative subject lines (‘Here’s more SAP cr*p!’).

And so my inner IC instincts kicked in. I knew nothing about employee comms or change management but I did know that someone needed to help.

That’s when I carved out a role for myself, joined the SAP implementation team, and took on the challenge of steadying the ship of negativity.

… well that was back in 2001 and it led me to in-house IC roles with a number of other global brands until I eventually decided to fly solo and began my freelance adventures.

I’ve been lucky to work with a bunch of amazing talented colleagues and managers from whom I learnt so much; and the BBC sponsored me to take a postgrad qualification in IC management (I love a qualification for taking away the dreaded imposter syndrome!).

I should say thank you to the scary sergeant major for making me break out of that comfort zone all those years ago. Who knows where I’d be otherwise!

Winning at self-employment

These days I find myself consulting with CEOs and their leadership teams offering strategic advice and leading on tactical delivery of employee comms, change programmes, marketing initiatives and much much more.

I love what I do, and that love is amplified by the fun and challenges of being self-employed. Which brings me full circle to the mission of this journal which is to share my experience as an independent consultant in the hope of inspiring others to take control of their career and fast track (past the potholes I stumbled through) to flying solo.

👉 Want to find out about working with me? Why not say hello with a quick email.

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