Helen Beckett: 'Hold your head high'

Helen Beckett, Founder, Illuminate Communications

Helen Beckett
Helen Beckett

Two years ago, I was working for a medium-sized London-based agency as an account director. One of our big clients was AIG, which was central to the whole financial situation in the US. When you have clients such as this on the books and when you are relatively senior, you do know what is going on.

I understood that new business was becoming more critical. Lots of clients were freezing accounts.

But when I heard I was being made redundant, it was still a shock and really disappointing because I loved the people I worked with. The agency got rid of someone at every level on a last in first-out basis. So it was out of my control. About the same time, my brother was made redundant by his architecture firm. It was a real comfort to have someone to talk to who was in the same boat. We talked about how to see the positive in the situation.

We had both always wanted to work for ourselves and this gave us the kick to set up our own firms. I got the news of my redundancy in October and by January had set up my own business.

Since then, I have worked for Directgov, for a range of charities and I lecture on PR as part of the Clore Leadership Programme.

For me, I would say only positive things have come from being made redundant. My advice to others would be to network, keep your head held high and go out and meet people.

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