What I've Learnt: Ellie St George-Yorke, Associate Director and Head of Leeds, Definition

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Ellie St George-Yorke

Ellie St George-Yorke leads the Leeds office at Definition - the PR, communications and reputation management firm with locations in Leeds, London and Dubai.

She has a wealth of experience across marketing and communcations, having risen through the ranks at Definition - previously holding roles including Senior Account Director. She was also formerly Communications Officer at the Environment Agency.

At Definition - which works with international businesses across health and charity, food and drink, and more - St George-Yorke also leads the maritime division, supporting and providing direction for clients including Nautilus International, The National Federation of Fishermen’s Federations, and The Shipwrecked Mariners' Society.

We found out what lessons Ellie's learnt.

 

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

I would love to say I go hiking every morning or start my day with yoga, but having a two-year-old means my morning routine usually involves more mess than mindfulness.

The one habit I do find really valuable and has made all the difference in lockdown however is making time to actually talk to my team. This might sound obvious but speaking to colleagues and working collaboratively is such a great way of sparking ideas and fostering creativity on a daily basis.

What's been your luckiest break?

It’s going back a few years now, but when I graduated into the heart of a recession with an unrelated degree, I was rejected for more junior positions than I care to remember. I was finally lucky enough to nab myself an AE position with Definition - then Acceleris - which at the time was a very young agency based in Harrogate.

10 years on, I’m part of the senior team of one of the top five B2B PR agencies in the country, and with the addition of new partners to our agency group last year, we’re now working for clients across the country and beyond, from our offices in Leeds, London and Dubai. It only goes to show, everything happens for a reason!

What's your best failure?

Every time you fail, you learn something. At work it might be a pitch that goes badly or a client who leaves, or at home it could be missing a family event or even something as small as not being able to find two matching clean socks.

It's hard to think of one standout 'best' failure but so long as you're constantly learning and moving forward, any failure can turn out to be a good thing.

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

For the last year I have been taking part in the BEIS-funded Be The Business mentoring programme. After being sceptical at first, I was paired with an incredible mentor who's provided a fresh perspective and an invaluable neutral sounding board to help me play my part in growing the business but also achieve my own professional ambitions.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

It’s 500 pages, so maybe not the whole thing, but have a look at 'On My Own Side' by Dr Aziz Gazipura. It offers fantastic insight into how we get into patterns of self-criticism and how to reprogramme our brains to be kinder to ourselves.

One of the mantras is to speak to yourself like you would speak to someone you love. In a world where people often seem so quick to criticise, it’s a valuable reminder to be a champion for yourself, as well as your colleagues and friends.

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

It doesn’t matter really, because whatever it was I wouldn’t have listened.

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

For me, there was a definite moment of realisation a few years into my career that you can actually be yourself at work and don’t have to be pretending to be something you’re not.

Everyone has a different style in business, and by relaxing into my own way of building my network, developing client relationships and managing my team, I was able to build confidence and instil confidence in others to develop their own styles too.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I once went to a job interview and realised halfway through I was at the wrong company. I quickly rushed back to reception to join the correct job interview. Didn’t get either - not my best day!

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

We’re already seeing the benefits of a more flexible approach. By allowing people to work in line with their productivity cycles we can harness the best of them without wasting their time and productivity sitting on a train.

While we’ve missed the atmosphere of being in a creative space together in the office, COVID has changed attitudes to remote meetings and with the Teams and Zoom meetings now being second nature, I’m sure we’ll be able to continue this and find a good balance when the world opens up again.

What does success look like to you?

For me, success is doing what you love, with people you like. Most days, I think I’m pretty successful!

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