MS Society logo on grey background with white trees border

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

At the start of 2018, REaD Group chose MS Society to be our charity of the year. This was based on one of our team who made the proposal, and we agreed they were a worthy charity to follow. I don’t think many of us at that point would have realised how engaged we would have been as a business with the charity, how much we would have learned about the disease or what can be done to help people who live with the disease every day.

A lot of that has to go down to MS Society, they have been amazing. We met the Chief Exec who was full of ideas on how we could help them. Additionally, we have had brilliant support from a number of teams across the charity, with special mention to Tom Bolsin, who has kept us up to date on opportunities, given us great ideas on how to raise funds but more importantly shared with us what our funds could do. And that is at the heart of what a good charity partnership should be.

Over the year we have had visits from an MS sufferer who shared what it is like to live with this debilitating illness every day and we have had a presentation from the research team on what is being done to try and stop the spread of MS.

A particular highlight (?) for me was the visit to the Tissue Bank with my colleague Katie.  Katie was our star fundraiser when we did our big challenge – more on that later – and as a “reward” got to see how brains and spinal cords are being dissected for sharing around the world for researchers to analyse the differences between those with the disease and those without (more information here). Katie seemed to love this, odd girl, although I had to leave the room to lie on the floor. Those people who do that job deserve a medal.

Probably the most uplifting event of the year was the awards ceremony where individuals with MS, their families, their employers and those who raise funds in their spare time were all recognised. The word “humbling” is over-used, but I left that event feeling pathetic for the little that I do compared to these amazing people and enthused that they do it.

Oh yeah, and we raised funds too. We baked cakes – some tasted nicer than others. We had a pub quiz and watched Tickers beat Snickers. Just about. We had pub games and enjoyed the beer more than the games. And we had a wax off where some of our brave men lost the hair from their arms, legs, back, stomach, chest and…underarms. Well played Arun, Adam, Charlie, Andrew and Joe. It wouldn’t have been me.

And for our big challenge we tackled 10 peaks in 10 hours in the Lake District. It was a very sunny day with a storm threatening the whole way around. I’m delighted to say that all thirty of us made it, and more importantly made it together. The fact that we entered the pub at 9 hours and 58 minutes just as the heavens opened made it all the sweeter I think. What a team effort!

We have raised over £12k before Gift Aid and have enjoyed doing so. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, we really appreciate it.

We’ll be looking to support another charity in 2019 but, to be honest, whoever we support will do well if they are as engaged, supportive and helpful as MS Society have been this year.  It’s quite easy for an organisation to raise funds for a charity but this year has been so much more than that. We have learned a great deal about the disease and the causes; we have met sufferers who have inspired and amazed us with their desire to live a normal life; we have learned about the root causes and what needs to happen to stop MS and we have seen how even a disease as hideous as this can be overcome with fortitude and bravery. It’s been fun and enlightening.

By Jason Peacock, Account Director a REaD Group

What does a day in the life of an Account Manager at REaD look like?

In short, a day in the life of an Account Manager is fun, challenging, collaborative, inspiring and hard work (did I say fun already?) and it’s most definitely rewarding. I would also be lying if I didn’t say occasionally it’s frustrating, but that’s just part of life right?

The fact is, as any person in any business working in an Account Management role will tell you, that every single day is different. And that itself is one of the brilliant things about the role.

An average day…

For me, every day starts with a coffee; a good strong coffee which I drink on the train to work while checking my diary and making a list of the things I need to get done for the day.

Once in the office, it’s full steam ahead. Another coffee on the go whilst reading and responding to urgent emails. Then a quick check-in with relevant internal teams on key projects and making sure I’m prepared for the meetings due to take place that day.

Internal meetings are relatively frequent. We may work in data, communications and technology, but we’re above all a people business and whether it’s face to face or via tele/video conference we work collaboratively to drive and deliver the work for our clients.

I’m working on a couple of large projects for my clients at the moment which have a lot of moving parts and regular catch-ups help keep everything on a smooth track.

The rest of my day typically consists of conducting client calls or meetings to present status updates on projects or, fresh thinking and new ideas to drive the clients’ business forward and meet their objectives.

I also spend time planning new work, compiling lists of next steps, sending follow-up emails, putting together timelines with internal stakeholders, scope of work estimates for the client, and opening project tickets.

The list could go on and on, but generally, it’s about keeping tabs on all projects and thinking about what needs to happen next.

As a role, it’s a hybrid of relationship management, project management, consultancy and sales. We keep clients happy, make them look good but also challenge their thinking.

There are of course the quieter days where meetings a less frequent and/or projects have slowed slightly which allows time to catch up on admin, think about future projects, find the next number on the advent calendar I received from the office secret ballot, think about what to buy for my Secret Santa gift, worry about what someone may buy me (!!)  and write the odd blog for the 12 days of Christmas.

So, what makes a good account manager?

To me, given the variety in the role there isn’t any one single thing that makes a great Account Manager.

Being a ‘people person’ helps. Someone who cares. Also the ability to listen – to discern what a client needs, and then fulfil that need – is a highly sought-after and invaluable skill.

Understanding their business challenges, their motivations and what makes them tick all help build and retain strong relationships, both internally and externally, which is of course key to building trust.

Being organized and wanting to be part of a team, so you can juggle multiple stakeholders and deliverables across multiple projects across multiple accounts, will also put you in good stead for a role in Account Management.

There are times you need tenacity – to take on, to look outside the box and solve a problem and there are other times when good commercial acumen, a cool head, diplomacy and sound judgement are needed.

It’s about being interested, being a team player, having boundless and relentless optimism and NOT being work shy.

What have I learned?

It’s not so much “learned” because I’m still learning. In the 20+ years I’ve worked in Account Management, I’ve challenged myself to learn something new every day.

From understanding new industry sectors, new personalities, new marketing technologies and to how to write new and complex data queries to learning more about Multiple Sclerosis (as a business we support the MS Society) and making “human mummy’s” with the office toilet roll whilst at the office bar on a Friday evening!

It’s impossible not to learn new things and be inspired when every day you’re surrounded by so many people from different backgrounds, with different interests and different skill sets.