As we look forward, we want to help “Build the Future”. We asked Ellen Gunning, CEO of the Global Institute for Public Relations (GIPR), to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her career, and what is, in her opinion, the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge for building the future.
Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?
Ellen: This is a great time to ask this question. I have just this week begun to work as CEO of the Global Institute for Public Relations (GIPR). The GIPR was previously known as Irish Academy of Public Relations and I had been the director there for almost 30 years. We have just re-branded to reflect the global nature of our clients who are based in 50 countries around the world. We felt that the old name did not reflect the fact that we have a joint venture in the Middle East and a partnership in Greece, for example. So technically, this is my first week in my new job!
Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Ellen: I am inspired by the industry that I work in – PR is very dynamic! I’m inspired by the people I work with – I have a fantastic team of hard working creatives. I am inspired by other industry leaders and thought leaders who share their vision and their back-stories and encourage us all to do more and do better! I am also inspired by books – I’m never done reading, even if I only get to skim-read most books! And, of course, I’m inspired by my husband whose view of the world is utterly different to mine – he is an artist – and who never ceases to amaze me with his vision.
Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?
Ellen: Undoubtedly my mother. I am the eldest of four children and my mother brought us all up to believe that we could do absolutely anything. She simply did not know how to dampen our enthusiasm for success, in whatever area we were interested in. My father has now assumed that role. He shares a deep interest in communications and offers unquestioning support and love no matter what I get up to.
Voltedge: What do you think the biggest opportunity is right now for building the future?
Ellen: I believe that the future lies in the hands of those who have the ability to gain insights from data. We are all drowning in data but very few people can analyse and draw conclusions successfully. The future is in AI and Machine Learning that makes this possible. The future will be owned by the visionaries who are first to adopt the technology. Speed is of the essence.
Voltedge: What do you think the biggest challenge is right now for building the future?
Ellen: The biggest challenge is possibly the changing life expectancy of people who now want to change career paths multiple times during their lives to suit the lifestyle that they have chosen. People are demanding a satisfaction from their work environment that wasn’t previously present. This is a challenge because the ‘length of service’ of employees will continue to shorten as we progress. The upside, of course, is that employees now are much more multi-skilled that previously. From the perspective of GIPR these employees also travel more and upskill at different times in their lives.
Voltedge: Can you share with us 2 or 3 positives in your personal life that you have discovered over the last 18 months?
Ellen: I have re-discovered the value of family and now set aside time each week for my father and my mother-in-law (and nothing interrupts it). I found that I really enjoy working on my own as much as I enjoy working with others – which was a real surprise. And I also discovered that I really am addicted to travel. I missed business travel so much. I can’t wait to get back to doing business with different cultures, on different continents, in person. I work with people that I am genuinely interested in, so I really enjoy interactive time with them!
Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?
Ellen: My favourite quote has to be this: If you believe you can do it – you can. If you believe you can’t do – you definitely can’t. I subscribe to the can-do theory!