Profile: Jane Boardman, Ketchum Life - Getting a new lease of life/Former Life PR director Jane Boardman rejoins the agency in its new incarnation

Jane Boardman is something of a Life PR addict. She has left other jobs to join the agency three times. In her most recent role she will be leading the firm in the run up to its amalgamation with Scope Ketchum in July.

Jane Boardman is something of a Life PR addict. She has left other

jobs to join the agency three times. In her most recent role she will be

leading the firm in the run up to its amalgamation with Scope Ketchum in

July.



’I understand this place, it’s in my blood,’ she says. She worked as a

senior account executive with Lynne Franks and her husband Paul in the

heady days of the mid-1980s, then left for six years, only to return as

a board director in 1992. Her time away from the agency included three

years with The Communication Group (TCG) as an account director. Peter

Hamilton, group managing director of TCG, says he can remember her

saying, over lunch, that she wanted to run her own business. ’She has an

effervescent personality, but behind that is an edge of steel,’ he

says.



After leaving Lynne Franks the second time in 1997, Boardman worked as a

consultant with Tanya Hughes, a board director at Lynne Franks who left

the agency just after her. The emphasis was more on being self-employed,

than on starting up a big PR firm. In the year before she returned to

Life, Boardman worked exclusively for M&C Saatchi Sponsorship. ’When I

wasn’t working here the one thing I missed was that you always feel in

touch with what is going on, whether it’s restaurants, fashion, music,

youth ... whatever,’ she says. ’That’s what clients pick up on when they

walk in the door.’



There has been some scepticism about whether merging Life into Ketchum’s

London operation is possible without destroying the flair and glamour it

has been famous for since it was founded by Lynne Franks in the early

1970s. Its funky ’AbFab’ image is a sharp contrast to Scope Ketchum’s

serious persona, and some would argue that the gap is too wide to

bridge.



Both Boardman and Scope Ketchum’s chief executive James Maxwell agree

that without her involvement, the task would have been formidable. ’The

culture is too complex for someone who hasn’t worked there to

understand,’ Boardman claims.



The task ahead of her is an exhausting one. Since the deal was announced

she has been based in Life’s Harrow Road offices. Every morning she

sends out a merger bulletin to up-date the staff. ’I’ve offered

one-to-one meetings to anyone who wants one, and set up a two hour

’surgery’ each week, where people can come and talk.’ Drinks in the pub

on Thursday evenings provide a more informal arena, while both Maxwell

and Ketchum’s European managing director, Jerry Olszewski, have come

over to meet the staff.



It helps that four out of five of Life’s associate directors know

Boardman from her previous incarnation as board director. ’People who

don’t know me can ask them what I’m really like.’ The possibility that

the reply could be negative doesn’t seem to occur to her.



Boardman’s confidence is not misplaced, according to Lara Turner, one of

the aforementioned associate directors. ’She is absolutely the best

manager I’ve ever come across - challenging but not dogmatic, nurturing

without being patronising. She’s also incredibly clever which means

people respect her,’ says Turner.



Boardman lists her three key priorities as transparency, consistency and

fairness. ’I want to be open and honest, for example, about what we can

and can’t afford; and ensure that when we say we are going to do

something, we will. I also want to provide the support and rewards

people deserve.’



The passion with which she conveys her ideas is reminiscent of Lynne

Franks’ own strongly held convictions. As she talks Boardman narrowly

avoids sounding like a breathy idealist. Whether her ideas work will be

tested over the next few months, as Ketchum Life’s ability to keep staff

and clients comes under the spotlight.



HIGHLIGHTS

1984

Senior account executive, Lynne Franks PR

1986

Account director, The Communications Group

1989

General manager, Evans Hunt Scott Exposure

1992

Board director, Lynne Franks PR

1997

Head of consumer media, M&C Saatchi Sponsorship

1998

Managing director, Ketchum Life



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