PROFILE: Judith Grindal, ICL Fujitsu; From farm to silicon valley

Country girl Judith Grindal has reaped a rich harvest in the hi-tech PR sector

Country girl Judith Grindal has reaped a rich harvest in the hi-tech PR

sector



From farmer’s daughter to hi-tech PR guru. Judith Grindal, new European

PR manager at ICL Fujitsu, admits she hates getting up early but

otherwise applies the pragmatic attitudes learned on the family dairy

farm to her career.



Straight-talking Grindal, 31, has spent her entire nine-years in PR at

computer giant Digital. Is she afraid of pastures new? ‘No. I’m looking

forward to the culture change.’



Following its acquisition of the British ICL, Japanese electronics group

Fujitsu is about to market its PCs through a volume products division in

Bracknell, which is Grindal’s new base. She will be reporting to Barry

Baxter, vice-president marketing.



Grindal is thrilled by her involvement in the development of a young

brand: ‘It’s a clean sheet. ICL Fujitsu doesn’t yet have a ‘face’ in

Europe. We have to develop who we are and what we stand for.’



Grindal will handle UK PR and provide ammunition for marketers across 26

European countries. Although the new role has a different focus, she

says some of her work at Digital had a European remit, most recently

when it was an official supplier to the Euro 96 football

championships.‘One of my greatest regrets in handing in my notice,’ she

says, ‘was that I missed the opportunity to take journalists to the

England games.’



This is typical of Grindal’s ‘laddish’ side. Something which must prove

useful in dealing with the male-dominated computer press.



James Governor, reporter on Computing, says: ‘Judith is a laugh. She

doesn’t mind being wound up. She is shrewd, but very friendly with it.’



Others comment on her down-to-earth approach.



Ken Deeks of Arrow PR says: ‘Judith is good to deal with because she’s

direct. Her pragmatism means she understands what can be achieved. Her

big strength is that she makes things happen.’



Grindal likes to see herself as the no-nonsense country girl: ‘My

philosophy of life is applying common sense. There’s always a practical

solution.’



So how was she tempted from the rural beauty of the Lake District to

Berkshire’s mini silicon valley? ‘Apparently I decided at the age of 11

that I was going to the local comprehensive, then on to university, then

I was going to get a job,’ she says.



After studying in London, the first job turned out to be receptionist

for a busy law firm where she realised that image could make or break a

company. ‘I still judge companies by the way they answer the phone,’ she

says.



In 1987 she moved to Reading for a series of communication positions at

Digital, becoming UK PR manager in July 1995. During her rise Digital

underwent massive restructuring, which saw the communications staff

halved Grindal believes the secret of her success is her ability to form

a rapport with people. Although she claims not to be particularly

ambitious, others may disagree. After all, moving to ICL Fujitsu wasn’t

the easy option.



People who have worked with her in an agency-client relationship endorse

Grindal’s claim that she views her suppliers as team members. However

there is also a suggestion that she relates better upwards than

downwards which could explain her ability to survive difficult times at

Digital.



Although Grindal insists that she is nothing like Absolutely Fabulous’

Edina, one detects a wilder side to this ‘sensible’ girl. She

passionately recalls one of her ‘best ever experiences’ - riding an

Arabian Stallion across the Egyptian desert at sunset. Grindal’s love of

horses has taken her riding across the landscapes of Turkey and Sri-

Lanka. However such rural exhilaration is balanced with an urban party

streak and Saturdays will find her sampling the night life of London.



For a person whose lifestyle is as important as her work, Grindal, on

holiday at the moment, is toying with ways of merging the two. She jokes

about ICL Fujitsu sponsoring the Burghley Horse Trials.



When asked the old chestnut ‘where will you be in ten years time?’

Grindal replies ‘I never look that far ahead. I’ll let it unfold before

me.’



HIGHLIGHTS



1988 Press officer, Digital Equipment Company

1991 Business Communications Specialist, DEC

1995 UK PR Manager, DEC

1996 PR manager Europe, ICL Fujistu



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