Well how did that happen? MD Communications is 10 years old. When I moved on from the Law Society in 2010 there were some who questioned me leaving a good job in a respected organisation for a dream – myself included (and, of course, my Dad!).
Fast forward 10 years and we should have been celebrating at The Club at The Ivy with unlimited champagne and music provided by dear friends and legal sector journos Matt Byrne, Deputy Editor of the Lawyer and his band, as well as the nicest man in journalism, Eduardo Reyes, Features Editor at the Law Society Gazette, playing the piano. Thank you both for your talents and time – and friendship. Watch out in the coming weeks for our party video where you may get to see a few familiar faces allowing us to celebrate virtually!
I would normally give a speech. So here goes.
I set out with a vision to support the growth of the UK legal sector through improved brand awareness and a great reputation. I set myself the goal to have three clients on launch day. I started that journey with Peters & Peters, The Legal Ombudsman, and Gerard McDermott QC. I will always be immensely grateful that they allowed this business and, along with it, my hopes for success get off the ground. Keith Oliver, Head of International at Peters & Peters, taught me the value of creating a strong network and that relationships aren’t built in a day – they take constant hard work. Gerard taught me that being a great advocate is almost always about keeping your cool and that it’s possible to constantly innovate and, dare I say it, that barristers are approachable and good fun. Adam Sampson, past CEO of the Legal Ombudsman, taught me never to underestimate myself. All three made introductions for me that led to more clients and all three are still in my life, with Gerard sitting at the top table on our advisory board. I will always be thankful to Peters & Peters, The Legal Ombudsman, and Gerard McDermott.
Ten years ago, MD Communications was just me. No team. No support and, worst of all, I had to do my own accounts. You’ll have heard me talk glowingly about my parents who after coming from humble beginnings and leaving school at 14, bought their own shop at the age of 19 and 21 and worked and achieved so much. My Mum was the accounts whizz. That was sadly no help to me in 2010 as it was the year she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In this, our 10th year of business, we lost my Mum in February and for the months following I received cards, flowers, emails and so much love and support from so many. Being part of a sector that took me in 16 years ago and has cared for me and so many others is a true privilege.
Although my Mum wasn’t aware of my journey both she and dad being so grounded, brave and bursting with perseverance and resilience made me and this flourishing consultancy what it is today. Which is, at its core, a set of extremely cherished and enjoyable relationships which make life’s journey that bit easier. Especially in a year like the one we have had.
I would like to thank our loyal, dedicated and talented team. We are 25 now. Our management team Linsay, Emma, Elliot and Paula are what keep the machine running. Linsay Leslie joined the business in 2017 and became a partner in 2019. Everyone in business needs a Linsay to support them. She has built a strong team around her and now works with clients in almost every corner of the globe – she is hugely talented, kind and brimming with integrity. I almost didn’t hire her back then as we thought her being based in Scotland would be an issue for a London-based consultancy. Fast forward to 2020 and hiring from a country/world-wide pool of talent was what we have done for years, so we had an advantage.
We also have an advisory board led by my mentor Evlynne Gilvarry, who I worked under at the Law Society, who stepped up and ran the business while I took maternity leave after the birth of my little Jessica. Eddie Ross, a client many years ago when he was CEO of Quality Solicitors, has sat on the board for five years and will be a big part of our launch into the wellness and reputation side of the business in the summer of 2021. James Hickey guided me through the vastness of the IBA and ABA and, as another former client, is a great guide and supporter on business growth. There are so many I could mention – but this blog is already starting to get long and I hope I have been able to thank you personally throughout this year.
At this point I would usually point over to my husband James and thank him, not just for being a wonderful support for the last six years, but also for stepping up to jointly care for Jessica, who has special needs, to allow me the time to nurture this business and be a great Mum in equal measure.
I feel so blessed – and, dare I say it, proud of myself – that I made the decision many years ago to only work with people who fitted our values. On our regular train trips to Birmingham it was Adam Sampson who taught me that the test of any relationship is whether or not you can sit on a train together for a long journey. I now make choices with those train journeys in mind. Although perhaps these days it might be translated to a long zoom meeting!
We are lucky enough to be able to choose our clients as much as they choose us. I would like to thank our clients – past and present. I would like to say in public what I have said in private this year: thank you. Thank you for sticking with us. For trusting us to deliver and for making the journey so enjoyable. Nothing this year could be taken for granted and not for one moment have we sat back and undervalued these relationships, new and old.
In the past 10 years I have made mistakes and I have suffered the consequences. I’ve learned and I am still learning but I believe that right now the team that is MD Communications is utterly phenomenal. That’s not an accident and it’s a huge privilege. A deliberate strategy to find, nurture and cultivate the best people who are all delightful, fun and make me so proud has paid off. The same can be said for our clients. They have all become an active part of this strong network that Keith Oliver told me was vital to success. They have opened their doors and their networks to other clients and every interaction sits firmly with our values of putting integrity and mental wellbeing top of the agenda.
So, as I would have held up a glass of fizz and looked into the faces of the party revellers, I would have asked, ‘what does the next 10 years hold’?
If there is one thing I have learned this year, it is to try and live in the moment and to never underestimate the power of being grateful. I am so grateful that we have survived and thrived this year, personally and professionally and I have learned and grown from mistakes and setbacks, and managed to keep resilience at my core. I am certainly glad that I made the decision to see what MD Communications could do 10 years ago.
Thank you Mum and Dad. I couldn’t have done this without you.
We have produced an illustration for a bit of fun – and with a charity element too. We will donate £1 for every ‘like’ (based on total likes across all platforms) to Reverse Rett and Skylarks Charity – two charitable organisations close to our heart.
Reverse Rett is a UK medical research charity dedicated to changing the lives of children and adults with Rett Syndrome, and Skylarks has a vision to create a world where children with special needs can thrive.