New member of an exclusive club – 10 years at Aurora

Dedicating 10 years of our lives to anything takes a great deal of commitment but working for one healthcare agency for a decade is a true achievement that not many of us reach. This year, Rachel Terry, our Editorial Lead, entered a rare club for those of us in the agency world and reached double-digits at one team. We are proud that she reached this milestone with us so we wanted to take the time and discuss her decade at Aurora.

What made Aurora the right agency for you 10 years ago?

Surprisingly, I first joined Aurora as a freelance account manager after being made redundant by my previous agency a few weeks before Christmas. I had held Director roles at various healthcare agencies and thought my account manager days were long behind me, but I had time, the project was interesting and Aurora seemed like a great place to work, so I went for it.

To this day I’m so happy I did, as the situation changed very quickly with the owners, Claire Eldridge and Neil Crump, offering me a permanent Director role within two months.

Due to Aurora’s culture and values, it creates an environment that thrives on entrepreneurial people who are 100% focused on healthcare, where everyone wants to do great work for like-minded clients working on fantastic innovations, doing what we can to make sure they reach the patients that need them.

Why is Aurora still the right agency 10 years on?

The main thing that has kept me here in the long-term is our culture. I think we’ve got a lovely culture at Aurora where people are encouraged to take the initiative and are also hugely supportive of each other. There is absolutely no office politics, no cliques, no game-playing – as I am not a political person, that makes for a productive, kind and rewarding working environment.

I am not at the stage of my career where I am chasing job titles and the biggest salary package – although they are pretty good at Aurora too – for me the other things are so much more important. It’s about how happy I am and how I can do my best work.

Do you think the difference at Aurora stems from the fact that the founders are still involved on a day-to-day basis?

For many years, Aurora’s independence was a major factor. In terms of our culture, nothing has changed with Aurora’s sale to Spectrum, our long-term US partner in the Global Health Medical Communications (GHMC) network. Claire and Neil, who had the original vision for Aurora and stayed true to it over the years, are still involved (albeit in a shiny new role for Neil), and we continue to focus on making the right decisions based on the needs of our clients and team, because that is essential for sustained business growth in the long-term.

When I wanted to make a change to my role a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Claire to shape it. This means I now focus on the things I love and enjoy and spend less time doing the things that – after more than 30 years in the industry – I just didn’t want to continue in this later stage of my career. Being able to have that discussion in a really open and honest way was invaluable.

What are you most proud of during your decade at the agency?

When I joined in 2012, Aurora wasn’t particularly focused on awards. I’ve always felt that awards matter to both client and agency teams and was able to make the case that we should enter, even though they create a lot of work. I am proud that we entered the Communiqué Award for Best Small Consultancy for the first time that year and won, and went on to win Consultancy of the Year the following year.

I believe that winning those awards made a difference to how Aurora was perceived by clients and the wider industry. I am also proud that, almost a decade later, we were again a finalist in the Consultancy of the Year category, acknowledging the brilliant work done by the whole team last year, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

What does Aurora need to do to encourage other people to stay for a decade or more?

There are things we need to maintain, and the company culture is definitely one of them. From an employee point of view, I think the culture we have built is exceptional in that it is both entrepreneurial and highly supportive, so it’s a great place to build a career.

Beyond that, I think people need opportunities to grow into new roles, and this process will accelerate with Spectrum’s investment for growth. Some will want to follow the traditional account management/agency management path, but others will prefer to build their career by specialising in new areas. Just as the rise of digital and social opened up opportunities for communicators and agencies to develop new expertise, emerging trends and technologies will create future opportunities not only for people to specialise, but also for Aurora to extend our range of services.

Ensuring people have new challenges and opportunities to develop new skillsets to build their careers in a direction that is right both for them and for the agency is key for longevity – alongside maintaining our great culture and competitive salary/benefits packages, of course!