Being a first-class listener will serve you best: Jon Howard of Bud Communications

Jon Howard is Director of Strategy at Bud Communications. Specializing in corporate reputation management, he has led company-wide rebrands, delivered multi-year B2B communications strategies, and worked with and reported to multiple C-suite types.

Originally from the south coast of the UK, Howard worked in Germany and Finland before moving to Singapore. After studying journalism, his big break in PR came heading a press office for one of Britain’s biggest consumer lobby groups.

He is a regular contributor of articles to e27 (you can read his articles on thought leadership here).

In this candid interview, he talks about his personal and professional life.

How would you explain what you do to a five-year-old?

We create and share interesting stories with journalists and other famous internet people at Bud Communications. That’s because we think they’ll also find these story ideas exciting and want to tell more people about them. These stories are about technology and focus on exciting inventions, smart business people and teams who want to do good things for the world.

What has been the biggest highlight/challenge of your career so far?

The biggest challenge was getting into the communications and PR industry in the first place. Back in 2008 I was finishing up a master’s degree and every role I applied for required previous work experience. All I had to show was several internships, some unpaid freelance writing and considerable bar/pub work to pay for my studies.

Fortunately, two good hiring managers saw past my lack of experience and gave me a chance. Today, it serves as a constant reminder to pay it forward if an entry-level applicant has a lot of passion and hunger to learn, but not necessarily roll calls of big names on their resume (yet).

How do you envision the next five years of your career?

I want to find myself in a compassionate team that speaks clearly and always has each other’s back.

Also read: It’s Your Passion, Not Education, That Drives Your Future: Meghan Bridges of Rainmaking Innovation

What are some of your favorite work tools?

I’m a big fan of EdX and Udemy. They have some top-notch courses that are budget-friendly and curated by top-notch academics and tutors.

In terms of workplace tools, this year we introduced the HR platform 15Five, which is great for seeing how team members are doing weekly, as well as being able to schedule line manager meetings and even 360 reviews and annual appraisals.

In terms of financial matters, Spenmo was recently added to our toolkit, which has simplified our team’s corporate expenses and made the reimbursement process more frictionless.

What is something about you or your job that would surprise us?

A big misconception about being a great communications/PR professional is that you have to be the dominant voice at parties, always leading conversations and giving people “aha moments” with every sentence.

The truth is, being a first-rate listener and one who asks thoughtful questions will serve you best. Practice active listening skills, always be curious about the other person’s perspective, and don’t worry about whether you’re the smartest person in the room.

Do you prefer WFH or WFO, or hybrid?

I need some level of routine and consistency, so I’m in the office almost daily. I am also much more productive in an office environment. It probably sounds strange to many people, but luckily commuting in Singapore is far more painless than, for example. London.

If I still lived there, my answer would probably be completely different. I don’t lose much time traveling to work in Singapore and the internet connection is good regardless of the mode of transport.

What would you tell your younger self?

“Do not worry; adults make it up as they go too. Be nicer to yourself.”

This line would have gone a long way to help my perpetual feelings of impostor syndrome, especially earlier in my career.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Work in progress.

Also read: Consistency is key in life: Baradhwaj R from MoEngage

What are you most likely to do if you are not working?

While living in Finland I picked up padel tennis, a cross between tennis and squash and now slowly growing in Singapore, with new courts in Jurong. I’m also kickstarting a homebrewing side gig that I hope can become a mega business empire one day.

Learning languages ​​is also perfect for mental stimulation, and I’m a heavy Duolingo user. Finally, one of the biggest habits I picked up during the COVID-19 lockdown in Europe was to learn the piano and maintain a habit of playing for about 15-20 minutes daily.

What are you reading/listening/watching right now?

ReadingBlack Box thinking by Matthew Syed is about failure, why it’s healthy, and how to learn from mistakes.

Listening for – Until England got knocked out of the World Cup and I was sad, I listened to The Guardians Football daily podcast first thing every morning.

Looking at – I have been sucked in The white lotus “whodunnit” hype over at HBO. Meanwhile, for some of the best content on YouTube, shoutout to travel vlogger Indigo Traveler, who puts herself in extremely dangerous situations to tell important stories in conflict-ridden areas.

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The post Being a top-notch listener will serve you best: Jon Howard of Bud Communications appeared first on e27.


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