This is the first in a new series of blogs about getting to know the Athene team. This month we chatted to Sam Ladds who has been with Athene since 2016. Below she reflects on her career with us over the last four years.
Where did your career start?
My journey at Athene Communications started in 2012, when I came in to do work experience for an afternoon a week while I completed my A Levels. I continued that until I went to the University of Birmingham, where I gained a first-class honours degree in English and history.
During university, I did work experience at many other PR agencies, including McCann PR in Birmingham, but Athene always had my heart. I’ve been a full-time member of the Athene team since I graduated in 2016 and was promoted to senior account executive in 2018.
What drew you to working in communications and PR?
I loved media studies and English at school and have always enjoyed writing. I initially wanted to be a journalist, but friends and family recommended PR to me as a similar career. After work experience in the Communications department at Cross Keys Homes and at Athene, I decided it was the career for me. I love how no day is the same in PR and there is always something new to get your teeth stuck into.
What’s your role at Athene?
I am a senior account executive which means I often lead on the delivery of work for our clients. This can involve a whole range of different tasks, from writing content and liaising with clients to get their sign off, to supporting and mentoring the account executives I work with. I also help the account managers with producing strategies for clients and dealing with crisis communications and issues management.
Have you taken any courses that have helped your career?
I am currently studying for a CIPR Diploma in Public Relations. As someone who learned PR on the job, it has been really interesting to understand more about the theories behind PR and the ethics of PR practice.
I have also completed the CIPR Account Manager, Crisis Communications and PR Planning, Strategy and Managing Campaigns courses – all of which I would highly recommend.
What’s been one of your biggest achievements at Athene?
The Education team has grown significantly while I’ve been at Athene, starting with just Ryan and I when I joined officially in 2016. It has been amazing to be a part of this growth and to see our clients recommending us to others in the sector.
I also really enjoyed winning two CIPR awards for campaigns I have worked on and one of my favourite moments was when Athene won Outstanding Agency of the year.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your career?
The biggest challenge for me has been confidence and experience, both things that grow and develop over time with no quick fix. It can be frustrating, but I do feel like I am gradually overcoming it and learning not to let impostor syndrome get the better of me.
What’s your favourite thing about working for Athene?
It sounds cringy but there are so many! We are really lucky to have a great team at Athene and a fun and supportive culture. Athene has given me so many opportunities to grow and improve my skills, from enrolling me in the CIPR Diploma to allowing me to lead on new projects. I’ve been at Athene in some way, shape or form for over eight years now and I still feel like I’m learning and developing.
What three words would you use to describe Athene?
Caring, experienced, creative.
Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I set myself a Goodreads reading target every year. This year my target was to read 40 books and I’m already at 30 in August! I’m also a big fan of motorsport and usually watch Speedway every week with my parents and Formula 1 with my boyfriend – this never fails to surprise people who’ve met me!
If you’d like to get to know the rest of the Athene team, keep an eye out on our news page for upcoming interviews!