Welcome to the next instalment of our Meet the Team blog series. This month we spoke with Kelly Linay, Director of Community Engagement at Athene Communications. Kelly talks about her role at Athene, her biggest career achievements and what drew her to a career in communications.
What is your career history?
I graduated in 1997 with a Tourism Management HND and secured a graduate placement with the largest corporate travel agency in the world (at the time) to train to be a Business Travel Consultant.
After a few years, I soon realised this wasn’t meant to be my future career, and I was fortunate to secure a marketing coordinator role with a small company, and while there, completed my IDM Diploma (Level 6) in Direct Marketing.
I then joined Business Link for England as a Marketing Executive, working as part of a large marketing team. I stayed in this role for a year before joining Luminus Group, a local housing association, as their Marketing and Communications Officer.
Ten years later, I left Luminus as their Communications & Marketing Manager and then spent seven months working as Papworth Trust’s PR Manager before joining Athene in November 2016.
What drew you to working in communications and PR?
I’ve always enjoyed organising and my previous communications roles involved making sure lots of plates were kept spinning at the same time.
For me, the ultimate aim was to work with a wide range of people and being able to deliver an end product, whether that be a newsletter, event or report. I liked being able to see a final outcome.
What is your role at Athene and what does that involve?
I am the Director of Community Engagement which involves working with a wide range of clients, helping them to achieve successful planning outcomes or supporting them with their PR. So, in this respect, I haven’t deviated from what I enjoy at all!
The community engagement team works with developers to bring forward housing, commercial and major infrastructure projects. We start working with them at the early stage of the project and are responsible for the key stakeholder and public consultation as well as PR.
I am also responsible for business development, client satisfaction, management of the team and working alongside my fellow Directors to run the business.
Have you completed any related courses or qualifications?
When I first joined Athene, I did a short course at the University of Westminster called Introduction to Planning. It takes a lot more than four days to learn about planning, but this was a good introduction to the basics and helped me understand my role within the project team.
In 2020, I did a Mini MBA at the London School of Business & Finance. This was a whistle-stop tour of the business fundamentals and helped reinforce what my strengths are in the workplace and what I should leave to the specialists – I’ll definitely never be an accountant!
What do you feel has been one of your biggest achievements at Athene?
Without a doubt taking over the responsibility for the community engagement team. When I first joined Athene, I was Deputy Director but was promoted in February 2019 to Director.
Also, for me getting to grips with the management figures. I’m not a numbers person and feeling in control of my figures is something that I’ve had to work hard at but think I’m on it now!
What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
The biggest challenge in my career was being made redundant from my previous role. I’d been there for over ten years and although it came as a much-needed change, it dented my confidence and took a lot of work to rebuild that. However, if that hadn’t have happened, Athene would never have found me! I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.
What is your favourite thing about working for Athene?
Without a doubt, my favourite thing about working for Athene is the people. Never in my life have I worked with such a talented and lovely bunch!
What three words would you use to describe Athene?
Knowledgeable, Flexible, Professional.
What is an interesting fact about yourself?
As a child, I spent months in plaster having my Achilles tendon stretched on my left foot to allow me to walk on the flat of my foot. I now use this as an excuse for my lack of fitness!
If you enjoyed finding out more about Kelly and you’d like to get to know the rest of the Athene team, keep an eye on our news page for upcoming interviews.