Tag Archives: alumni

Tom Griffiths

Q&A with Tom Griffiths, who joined Gong as an Account Executive in 2012 to work on client accounts including global agribusiness Olam and private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners. Tom’s international work at Gong fed his appetite for working with Chinese markets and since leaving the agency, he has built a career as a digital marketing specialist focused on growing luxury brands in China and Asia Pacific.

 

How did you come to hear about Gong?

You’d placed an advert on the University of Oxford jobs board – I’d just finished at Oxford and had considered pursuing a PhD in Ming Dynasty travel writing in Canberra, but decided that a career in academia wasn’t for me. I made a list of all the things that I did want for a career (which included having a research focus, and being international in scope) and Gong’s job description leapt out at me as fulfilling my self-drawn brief.

How did working at Gong help you to crystallise your career choices?

The client work that I undertook at Gong was fascinating. A large part of my role was researching the global food supply chain in the media, which built fantastic foundations for me in terms of understanding the markets in which international businesses operate, but also putting media stories into better perspective. By creating daily roundups of news from the papers, I learnt to look behind the news stories (particularly the sensationalist ones) but also how to craft and position stories to make them appealing to journalists.

What are your fondest memories?

Well beyond the office chat, we had some great team and client nights out! The office in Marylebone is fantastically positioned for bars, restaurants and easy access to nightlife. A favourite haunt was Purl, a bar around the corner that would serve smoking cocktails and a great atmosphere.

Any lessons learned?

One of the best pieces of client relationship advice that I ever received is that in what can be a dry corporate environment, it doesn’t take much to be the most interesting meeting of the week. I always try to bring something extra to client meetings – perhaps news of a quirky trend for example – that will keep your client thinking and talking about you for the rest of their day.

Tell us more about your roles since working for Gong.

Through my work on the Asian markets at Gong, I realised that I wanted to pursue a career focused on China. I joined Chinese-dedicated digital marketing agency Hot Pot Digital to launch a New York office, splitting my time between London and New York. Once the office was launched, I left to pursue operational consultancy work that involved supporting start-ups as they set up in China. Between becoming a father, I’ve also worked in the Chinese luxury digital marketing space with clients like Agent Provocateur, Joolz and the Craft Irish Whiskey Company. Right now, I’m looking forward to moving back to my homeland of New Zealand to pursue some exciting new consultancy prospects from Chinese brands looking to expand there.

 

Tom Griffiths is a digital marketing specialist focused on growing luxury, premium and creative brands in China and APAC. Learn more at https://halfaworld.com/.

Sara Firouzyar

Q&A with Sara Firouzyar, who joined Gong as a Senior Account Executive and an early hire in the finance team, working predominantly on private equity clients. Sara progressed to Account Director before leaving to live and work in South Africa for just over a year. Returning to the UK, Sara rejoined Gong as financial services lead. She finally left the agency in 2020 to join CDP – a not-for-profit that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts – as Global Comms lead for the Capital Markets Team.

How did we first meet you?

I had been working at Maitland but was looking for a new role and was introduced to Gong by a recruitment agent. I knew immediately during the interview process that Gong was somewhere that I would be able to make a difference. I loved the team, and at that time, the agency was small enough (I was the fifth or sixth hire) that I knew I would be given significant client exposure and responsibility.

What was it about Gong that appealed?

Beyond my colleagues – who are all lovely – I was attracted by the clients. They were predominantly emerging markets focused, with a strong narrative around the transformative power of capital. I trained in corporate law but have always been drawn towards companies that make a positive impact on society, so communicating these stories within the private equity sector sat very nicely within my skillset. I was pleased to be able to bring my legal knowledge to our professional services clients too, which included law firms among them.

What were your highlights from working at Gong?

How long have you got? I loved the team – even as the agency grew, the supportive culture has never changed. Everyone is approachable and it is a very collaborative environment. Despite the various client team focuses, there are no silos or obviously-felt hierarchy. I think this stems from the agency ethos of supporting clients that want to communicate their positive impact on society. It is an ethos that runs to the core of Gong and all of the (very diverse) team that works there, meaning that everyone is pursuing a common goal.

Another huge highlight of working at Gong for me was the opportunity to travel, particularly to Africa. Working with clients and journalists on the ground in other countries gave me a new perspective to communications that I wouldn’t have had in another agency.

Also I think Gong’s flexible working policy was a huge boon. We were well ahead of the curve in pursuing this and it’s still a highlight for colleagues today. That and the corporate benefit of finishing work early on Fridays in the summer!

How did working at Gong help to hone your career interests?

Certainly it cemented my belief in the positive outcomes of capital flows when invested responsibly. And without doubt Gong’s sustainability focus had an impact on my choice to extend my career within the environment sector, and ultimately in the capital markets team at CDP.

What does your role look like now?

I work for the gold standard in global environmental disclosure systems, which pioneered using the influence of capital markets to drive corporate environmental transparency and action. It’s a fascinating area, especially as we see increasing corporate commitments to reduce carbon emissions and pursuit of net zero. We are all aware that climate change presents significant risk to the economy – so much so that last year, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make climate risk assessments mandatory, in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), for large swathes of the economy by 2025. I’m pleased to be working for an organisation that supports capital markets actors to understand and manage their own climate-related risks and impact, engage meaningfully with their portfolios and make more informed financial decisions. Not only will this help with meeting net zero goals but ultimately move towards a more sustainable future that works for people and planet.

At CDP, I am responsible for designing and delivering the comms strategy for the capital markets team with the objective of mobilising investors and financial institutions to enable transition to a net zero economy. No day is the same, but I’m used to that after working at Gong!

Sara Firouzyar is Global Communications Lead for the Capital Markets team at CDP, a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. CDP is backed by over 590 investors globally with over $110 trillion in assets.

Sally Maier Yip

 

Q&A with Sally Maier Yip, who joined Gong as an Account Manager in 2011. She left three and half years later to establish her own agency – 11K Consulting – which focuses on supporting Western luxury clients with their success in Chinese markets.

 

How did we first meet you?

After moving to the UK from Singapore it took me some time to establish my footing in the UK PR scene. While I navigated the differences between the two markets, I initially freelanced for Gong. To my delight, a permanent position came up and I was offered the job – I had already decided that Gong was an agency that shared my values and I immediately accepted.

What was it about Gong that appealed?

I immediately felt at home at Gong. Yours is a culture that was very reminiscent of the agencies I had worked with in Singapore – professional yet personal, and very international. Work that was not just UK-based definitely appealed to me.

What did you bring to the business over and above client service?

At Gong, everyone’s individual experiences are celebrated, no matter what your title is or position you hold. During our company away days and ‘best practice’ team learning sessions, I was frequently invited to present on the differences and opportunities of the Asian markets – helping and advising colleagues on cultural nuances that would make all the difference to a client pitch, for example.

What did you get from your Gong experience?

Undoubtedly, Gong helped me to build my career in the UK. You provided me with a solid foundation to understand how UK professionals work. I was given confidence and knowledge to advance to the next stage of my career. Also, by working on the global agribusiness, Olam, for three years, I really honed my global communications skills in several countries. I gained a profound respect for sustainability issues and food security and was proud of the work my clients did.

What skills did you hone at Gong?

I learned to deal quickly and calmly with important issues that could affect a global business. I learned the significant importance of planning and scheduling – if you are going to be effective across multiple time zones and with multiple stakeholders in one global business, you have to be on top of absolutely everything. This lesson has been invaluable when building my own business, but also in running my family alongside it!

What advice would you give to someone looking for a new comms role?

Look hard at the people working in the agency already. Do they feel like a good match for you? Do they share your values? A good agency will have staff that embodies its values and so people speak volumes.

Did working at Gong help crystallize what you wanted to achieve in your career?

Gong gave me the confidence to try new things and understand what clients really need. That was absolutely instrumental as I chose to set up my own agency and return to my Chinese heritage, enabling Western clients to ‘win’ in Chinese markets through personalised communications. I also deeply respect Narda (Gong’s MD) as a role model – someone able to integrate work with personal and family commitments.

And now?

I’m so proud that I am still in touch with Gong even after six years since being a colleague. I feel that we are able to continue to support and nurture each other – working at Gong is a real legacy position and I’m delighted to still be – to some degree – part of the family.

Sally Maier-Yip 叶运珍 is Founder & Managing Director of 11K Consulting 漫一传播咨询公司 , the UK’s leading China PR and comms agency specialising in helping Western brands target and attract Chinese high-net-worth-individuals, luxury consumers, and investors in the UK, China and HK. 


11K’s clients are in the high-end property development, interior design, architecture, and luxury lifestyle sectors, including: The Royal Institute of British Architects, HBA Residential, Burlington Arcade, Park Chinois, Lustica Bay in Montenegro, Remy Martin, and more.