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What I’ve Learnt: Clare Gledhill, Operations Director, CDS


Experienced marketing professional Clare Gledhill has been Operations Director at CDS, the print and digital communications agency, since 2015.

In that time, CDS has won a range of awards, and consistently been ranked in the top 10 of Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital Agencies list. In her career, Clare’s held a range of senior delivery and project management roles at leading organisations including Code Computerlove, McCann, Redweb and more.

CDS works with important clients including the NHS, Bank of England, Insight Investment, Cabinet Office, Tenet Group, Transport for London, National Rail and many other national groups.

We found out the lessons which Clare’s work and life have taught her.


Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

I can’t possibly start the day without a peppermint tea, but I also try to do yoga every morning – it helps me to feel ‘in my body’. If I go for a while without doing any, I start to become less ‘open’ and less connected to myself.

What’s been your luckiest break?

Being asked to join a startup digital agency back in 2003. I came on board as Operations Manager and worked alongside clients such as Virgin Holidays, Virgin Atlantic and Teletext Holidays. The firm really pushed the realms of possibility in digital – and I learnt so much during my time there.

What’s your best failure?

Against all predictions – and to the dismay of my family – I left school at 16 with just two O-levels. This spurred me on to study and learn every day from that point onwards. Now, I’m qualified and curious!

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

I am a part-qualified relationship therapist and have invested time into studying and clinical practice with Relate. It has helped me to translate the learning into my day job too, and understand how people’s relational dynamics impact the way in which we both interact and connect.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

There are two books I would recommend. The first is ‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne. It’s a fascinating and easily accessible view on the dynamics of relationships and the way in which we relate in particular situations and with certain people.

The other book is ‘Love, Freedom & Aloneness’ by Osho – it’s an insightful guide to attaining freedom and contentment.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re beautiful and brilliant – embrace and enjoy it!

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

Due to events in childhood, I decided at a young age that whatever I did in life, I wanted to live with a sense of adventure. So, I guess my younger self – and the sense that I made of the world – has driven me to explore and pursue career paths that have led to several adventures.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I’m a single mum of seven-year-old twins and have raised them alone since they were 18 months old. I’m also just about to finish my MBA at Nottingham University.

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

COVID-19 has introduced another layer of flexibility that I hadn’t experienced before. It has shown that we can still be productive and keep the wheels turning, but has offered us the opportunity to spend more quality time with our children.

In turn, this has given them a view into what we do alongside being a parent – and how we do it. My boys are more interested in my work now than ever before because it’s more tangible to them.

What does success look like to you?

Success used to be about attainment of knowledge and being the best that I can be in my work, but now it’s about contentment and happiness – not just for me, but for my colleagues too. It’s so important that we see people as individuals and afford them the same levels of flexibility, interest, respect, and a sense of progression that we would want for ourselves and our children.

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