How did this move come about?
Parnham: It was always my intention when I bought Absolute Corporate Events to get Jacquie as my sales director one day. We met for drinks last summer and I told Jacquie that there was a great job for her when she was ready. In my mind there was never anyone else for that job, unless Jacquie had turned me down of course. My business was ready for a sales director – we’d doubled turnover. After that discussion, nothing really happened for six months.
Freer: When Chris left Zibrant, I was devastated. We’d always worked well together. So when he approached me, I was definitely interested. Then the Zibrant buyout happened, and with it being Nigel (Cooper) taking over, it did make me stop and question moving on.
I have always had a good relationship with Nigel and he was very supportive of me. But I still felt that I was missing the creative input I had when I worked closely with Chris, and was less hands on with clients than I would have liked. I needed a change and a challenge, and the flexibility of being able to work from home was attractive. But leaving Fay (Sharpe) and Nigel was not an easy decision.
What will Jacquie’s role entail?
Freer: The role isn’t hugely different to what I did at Zibrant, getting under the skin of clients and relationship building. But what will be different is the speed at which I can deliver, as it’s easier to make decisions and respond more quickly at a smaller agency. Having that involvement from beginning to end is important, and clients like the fact a board member is involved.
Parnham: Jacquie’s role is sales and commercial director. We already have a portfolio of clients that she can pick up and find out how we can do more for them. We also plan to build a pipeline of new business and expect to be out pitching together soon. I love pitching, but more than that, I love winning, and that’s the reason for Jacquie being here as we will win more together.
Freer: I think it will be a challenge. It’s not going to be a walk in the park but I think if you are having fun with it, then hard work is a good thing. Procedures and processes drag me down, so to be able to go to someone that has the power to make a decision quickly is great as we need to be able to deliver quickly for clients.
What new skills does Jacquie bring to the board?
Parnham: She complements us perfectly. The three of us already on the board have different skills. Jill (Fleming) is our rock and runs the operational side of the business, Angie (Mason) has been my mentor, she has so much experience and gives us credibility, and I bring a renewed direction and leadership for the business. It’s my job to inspire everybody. Jacquie brings a passion for clients that we all have but don’t look at exclusively. She knows how to keep clients happy.
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