Winner – Anais Merlin, CCgroup
After joining CCgroup in late 2015 as a junior account executive, Merlin swiftly rose through the ranks to become deputy head of telecoms at the start of 2020.
CCgroup chief executive Richard Fogg said that client satisfaction on her accounts was “world class”, while her new business prowess helped win five new accounts for the practice within her first year in the role. This included conceiving the creative that won Out There Media, before running a campaign that brought this niche operator out of the shadows. Off the back of a successful thought leadership push, its chief executive, Kerstin Trikalitis, was invited to speak at MWC21 in Barcelona, a hugely influential event in the industry.
Just as impressive, if not more so, is Merlin’s work fighting for inclusion and equality. She set up a monthly series of CCgroup discussions around Black Lives Matter in mid-2020 that evolved to address diversity more broadly, and were a key part in the agency’s successful Blueprint application. Merlin also teamed up with a colleague, alongside whom she has so far offered pro-bono PR services to 25 black-owned start-ups.
This commitment to diversity led to an invitation from the global mobile industry association, the GSMA, to moderate an International Women’s Day panel on the role of tech in driving diversity and inclusion. The session was seen by more than 900 people online.
Known as the ‘Telecoms Queen’ at CCgroup, thanks to her mentoring of junior colleagues, she now also reigns supreme as the first winner of the new Young Game Changer of The Year category.
The judges said
Anais has clearly made a real difference to support combating systemic racism and racial inequality. Her work with black-owned start-ups is outstanding, she takes juniors under her wing, and has had significant impact on clients and their PR strategies.
Highly Commended – Alex Kolawole, APCO Worldwide
Alex's appointment as one of APCO's Key Client Leaders helped drive revenue growth in Europe from 27 per cent in 2019 to 44 per cent in 2020, during which time he also founded the agency's first Diversity & Inclusion Council in Europe. He exhibits great versatility, as a member of the firm’s global media team, digital team and creative ideas team.
Megan Davies, associate director, Belle Public Relations
Alice Neave, associate director, Finsbury Glover Hering
Charlie Price, account director, Virgo Health