I didn't get where I am today...without working hard and laughing hard

Ilona Hitel, the founder of The CommsCo, on two key reasons for her success.

On a recent visit to Southampton Solent to deliver a presentation on how to get a job in PR, it struck me how much more business-aware students nearing graduation are nowadays.

As a graduate of the early 90s, I ­entered the workforce lacking careers advice and ideas and in the middle of a recession. Perhaps it is ­because I am the daughter of a ­Hungarian refugee, but it felt natural to work for months for no pay to give myself a chance of a position and career.

What this taught me is that being the sort of person who works the hardest, really values a good workplace and loves the concept of graft gives me the best chance to succeed. People with the same values are those I like to surround myself with today.

Now looking from a position of both agency co-founder and founder and with a great deal of experience, I can see how clearly this same ethic stands out in others. Of the graduates I met in Southampton, those who stood out were those who had done their research and, most importantly, gave the impression work was something they would enjoy. Not just dream of the rewards.

This ethic puts them above those who may be blessed with more pure ‘talent’. They ooze personality and enthusiasm.

A work ethic is key, but I would not have ­survived without possessing good ­grammar and a hearty sense of humour. These three ‘gifts’ allowed me to sustain a 15-year, single-agency career where I grew and drove change in the same environment. In the ups and downs of business there are worse things to be remembered for than working hard, ­being able to spell and making people laugh.

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