A View From The Comms Team
This regular feature looks at the views of leading corporate communication professionals about the latest trends and insight into the industry. This month we feature Jade Trimbee, Senior Manager Corporate & Financial External Affairs, Direct Line Group
Jade Trimbee is a Senior Manager for Corporate and Financial External Affairs at one of the biggest brands in the UK insurance industry. She spoke to PressChoice about her unusual path from dancer to her current job and the new challenges Covid-19 presents to industry comms professionals.
Jade Trimbee was born in South Africa and lived in Johannesburg until the age of 20. Her career journey has not only taken her to different countries but through some very different, unusual and exciting jobs.
One thing few people in the industry know about her is that she started as a professional dancer. She studied ballet, jazz and then went into cabaret. “Cabaret was a big thing in South Africa at the time and the shows were massive extravaganzas, just like Las Vegas” she told us. After a few years travelling the world in various shows, a friend of Jade’s said she was going to work in England and she decided to join her.
Whilst in the UK she met someone who worked for a local radio station and she got a job there working in their promotions department. “It was so much fun and a real education. I had the most amazing time – working with all kinds of artists with the highlight being managing the campaign to turn on of the Oxford Street Christmas lights. From there I wanted to do something a little bit more serious, and that’s what tempted me to move into finance”
It’s a rare example of someone running away from the circus to join the city – but the career bridge from performance, to marketing and then to professional comms, has a powerful logic to it. The performing background has given Jade an insight into her current role ‘It’s still about storytelling and understanding the audience”– so all of that training in performance has given her an insight into financial PR which a more traditional role, may not have afforded her.
Jade has now moved from the consumer side of the business to corporate communications, and she says that this does involve a different approach to your messaging and campaigns. “In some ways the corporate comms side of the business involves sometimes having to turn away requests which may not be right for the company at that time because of other things you know are going on, which haven’t been made public. In general, corporate comms means you have to balance the competing demands of a lot of different stakeholders. It means often having to make finely tuned decisions before making a big corporate comms call.”
The Covid crisis has, of course, brought new challenges to almost everyone and insurance businesses like Direct Line Group are very much at the centre that change.
“I think that businesses like ours are now under much more scrutiny than before. It's so important now for businesses to do the right thing and I think audiences are much more aware of how businesses are reacting and treating their customers and staff. We are working really hard to protect everyone we can in this incredibly difficult period and I’m incredibly proud of what we've done.”
The group’s CEO, Penny James launched a new strategy last year which undertook ‘ a vision where insurance is personal, inclusive and a force for good.’ That’s something Jade feels the comms team has taken to heart.
“Our key message this year has been about being a force for good, communicating how we are doing the right thing, for all of our stakeholders and customers. That’s especially important now as the Covid crisis has obviously had a massive impact on communities across the country. We have been working with local communities and charities to help them in very direct ways and through those actions have helped hundreds of thousands of people, in what I think has been an incredible kind of campaign. I'm so proud of how we have responded to that challenge.”
As for how Jade has personally dealt with Lockdown, well that is more mixed. “I think initially I found it really very difficult. I thrive when I'm around other people and I think better when being in a team of people where you can bounce ideas off each other. I did feel quite isolated and lonely at times. However, I think there are advantages to more flexible ways of working and I believe a more blended approach of home and the office may be a way forward in the future.”
For a leading comms professional, who has had a much more adventurous and unusual career than many – I asked her what she would say to her younger self with the benefit of all the experience and knowledge she now has?
“I guess believing in yourself is just the most important thing. I think that's the one thing that I've learned throughout my career, is that challenges come, and things happen that you might not have anticipated, but you need, if you are able, to just dust yourself off, trust yourself, pick yourself up and get on with it.”
Jade Trimbee is a Senior Manager - Corporate and Financial, External Affairs at the Direct Line Group
You can follow her on Twitter @JadeTrimbee