A Day With…Jessamy Field

We’re going behind the scenes with communications professionals across the APAC region, learning more about their diverse roles, what they love most about their jobs, and how they got there in the first place. In the sixth part of the series, we sat down with Jessamy Field, Head of BD, Comms & Marketing, Asia-Pacific at Allen & Overy.
Briefly describe a ‘day in the life’ of you as a communications professional. What’s the best part of your job?

After a quick look at overnight media monitoring, my day usually starts making school lunchboxes and getting two teenage boys to school. Then coffee. After that there is often not a lot a predictability working across 12 offices in Asia Pacific. I am foremostly a marketer – communications is a (important) component of my role and in everything we deliver of course. Communications is designed to move people on a message. If you haven’t identified who you are trying to persuade and what you want them to do/react/feel, communication is just nice words on a page that speak to no one. So I always try to apply the skills of a marketer to any communications.

My day can cover anything from reviewing effectiveness of completed campaigns, managing media and PR, providing input to live campaigns to reviewing or writing a pitch document.

The best part of the job is the diverse team and markets. I like the challenge of questioning whether what we are doing is working and if it truly meets the needs, realities and values of our clients and audiences. I quite like the lunchbox making too.

How did you enter the communications industry? (i.e. university study, internships, worked your way into communications, another route?)

In my final years of high school, I did an internship with Channel 10 news and a placement as a photo journalist with a local newspaper. After school I worked in a couple of PR roles – a high end retail store in London, the “colour PR” for the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne before heading to University to study Media and Communications. While at university I was working for an event management agency that worked for the Australian Government in bi-lateral trade missions into Asia. That was a steep learning curve in understanding how to communicate in different cultural contexts. We dealt with a lot of Australian and international journalists. It was during this time I worked with a great client who was a former journalist with the West Australian and the ABC. He became a mentor and friend. I learnt a lot about media and communications during this time.

For the past couple of decades I have worked in professional services marketing and communications, where the sales cycle is longer, the services and products are complex and increasingly hard to differentiate due to the competition intensity.

What’s the best piece of communications advice you’ve been given?

Be channel agnostic – seems so simple but I work in an environment where people come to you with the starting point of it must be on LinkedIn, or see themselves in the press. If you really want to be successful long term and develop audiences, you need to be channel agnostic – who is the audience, what are their key attributes, behaviours and beliefs and what is the message you are trying to get across – then consider the best channels to reach them, through multiple integrated communications. Sounds basic but it was the best advice that I was given before the multitude of digital channels became available.

What’s your superpower as a communications professional?

I am not sure I have one, but I would like to discover the superpowers of understanding and communicating to teenage boys.

Looking ahead, what are the three most critical skills comms professionals should develop to meet tomorrow’s business needs?
  • Understanding the cognitive limits and behavioural psychology of our audiences has never been more important. Getting your messages across will become harder given the volume of channels and volume of content that there is in the market.
  • Listening. This continues to be the most essential skill of a communications professional now and into the future.
  • Effectively using data and analytics to inform communication strategy.