Career Stories

Pete O'Brien
Pete O'Brien
Search Quality Assurance and Database Feedback Manager

What is your position at Gorkana and what does this entail? My role has evolved several times and in its current form involves running the day to day operations of 3 teams, planning, setting targets and ensuring consistency of delivery across the group.

The database feedback team deals with incoming enquiries from customers, the search team writes Boolean strings to support customer briefs, and the Quality Assurance role involves ensuring a consistency of delivery in terms of product to our customers in the monitoring line of business, so each area requires my attention and input in a different way. One of the key parts of my role has been to introduce and implement processes which ensures that we appropriately plan and set achievable targets, and have key metrics in place, measurable data and KPI’s which help to improve the efficiency and impact of the customer service team.

I work closely with the customer service team and product teams across the group to ensure a consistent quality of product delivery, and from a technical perspective ensure customers are receiving and viewing correct/appropriate content, and that internal production processes are consistent and measurable. I also work with our Chief Technology Officer on development issues, Director of Product Development, the Customer Service team management, Analysis Operations & Database Management teams, and the heads of the Production department Susie & Huw.

What do you enjoy most about your job? On the 15th Sept 2014 I will be celebrating 15 years with the business, and I still enjoy working here. First of all I love a challenge and hate being bored, and I can state unequivocally that there is very rarely a boring day at the Gorkana Group. Secondly I am blessed to work with some very talented people, and not just that they’re nice too! Decent and pleasant people. I genuinely enjoy coming into work every day. In fact I recently cancelled a day’s holiday to come in and help out on a project – it wasn’t a hardship, and no one asked me to do it, but there was an issue to be resolved and I knew I could lend a hand. It’s that type of place and I know that most of my colleagues would have done the same thing. In short I guess you could say that I like to be challenged, constantly stimulated, and work with creative people that deliver results, and that’s exactly what you can expect to find here.

How would you describe the culture of the business? In 3 words: Focused, Entrepreneurial and Evolving. There is a constant drive for achievement, but without the constraints of an overly corporate environment. The business has very high standards and each individual is aware of and dedicated to reaching the bar they are expected to meet, but unlike other businesses we have the flexibility and openness to change. It’s a very agile mentality, constantly seeking to improve and develop, and in order to optimise you cannot be afraid to innovate. Here we have the freedom, support and ability to do this, at a high level, and as a result over the past 15 years we have continuously seen the evolution of the business as it has adapted to technological advances, product innovations and structural changes. In terms of the atmosphere within the offices you can definitely feel the impressions of our client industries. We are not free spirited media, or the glitz and glamour of PR, but there are influences and hints of this in the workplace. It’s a very long way from working in a corporate bank for example.

What’s the biggest perk of working here? I know it sounds a bit geeky, but I just cannot get over the fact that I get to investigate things that really interest me, and I get paid to do it. I love my job, and the subject matter is such that if I would be reading the same publications and interacting with the same individuals regardless of whether it were under the guise of work or not. I also truly feel like my opinion is valued within the business, I love to share knowledge and as part of my role I get to communicate and translate complex ideas to people of various levels within the business. Seeing the light in their eyes as they finally understand the technical complexities and solutions I have created gives me a buzz every time.

How have you progressed your career so far since joining Gorkana? Wow – I’ll need to go back a long way with this. So first off I started as a night reader in the production team, and not long after I joined the team diversified to also take on some summariser responsibilities. After about 2.5 yrs I was getting a little tired of the night shift though and so requested a move to days, again working as a summariser and reader. I’m the type of person that is always wanting to do more and develop my own skills so after a little while I jumped at the opportunity to join the quality assurance dept, and once I understood the business better I was able to pursue a technical role called Search Manager. This was a fantastic role and the one in which I feel I was really able to leave my mark. Basically I created and built the search team, and introduced measurement processes to this area of the business. Both the team and I then matured in line with the business expectations and began to introduce six sigma techniques that meant we were better able to measure performance and show continuous improvement. As a result of our input error rates were reduced from 10% to a measly 0.008%. My next challenge was then to take on the day to day management of the Quality Assurance team, in addition to my other duties, and so I replicated what I done previously in terms introduced better targeting and measurable KPI’s, spending time focused on mentoring the team, and understanding of outcomes / structure and organisation, which has in itself paid dividends. Then last year the decision was taken to migrate the database feedback team from our news team to customer service, so I absorbed the day to day operational management of this team in addition the the other two already under my command. For the last year I have been up-skilling staff, training them on how to analyse and measure data, how to become effective people managers etc, and we have seen some fantastic results. We have reduced the time taken to resolve issues, and improved morale internally. Now I am proud to say that I am the manager of three autonomous and well run teams. In view of this achievement and the fact that I feel I have turned a corner in the past year it is inevitable that I started to seek out my next challenge, which has actually just been confirmed. Starting in June I will take on the role of Customer Experience Manager, which will benefit from my strengths in terms of organisation and structure, but develop my skill set in different areas because I will be performing a more customer facing role. It’s a challenge I am really looking forward to rising to, and have no doubt that it won’t be my last within the business.

Why do you think someone should choose to work here rather than anywhere else? For those that seek it and are not afraid of hard work there is always opportunity in this business. Plus you have the opportunity to work with incredibly talented people. I would also say that it is a place where you can achieve own goals and get involved in very interesting and fulfilling projects. You can come in and have fun with colleagues, but know that everyone you are working with is focused, hard working and committed to getting the best possible results. When I interview for my team I make the point that this is the type of business where expectations are high, and so those coming in need to be at the top of their game and ready to rise yet further. For those that step up the opportunities are endless – and I’m proof of that.

Krysia Lucuk
Krysia Lucuk
Sector Operations Manager

What do you do here at Gorkana? I’m one of the Sector Operations Managers in the Analysis department, and am responsible for clients and employees that sit in the US & PR Agency sector. As a team of 23 people we work closely together to ensure the delivery of high quality reporting to our clients, as well as constantly working to improve the customer experience. I am a point of contact for escalations within the team, as well as responsible for overseeing the smooth on-boarding of all our new analysis customers.

In addition to my sector team responsibilities, I work closely with my peers department-wide to support training and development, recruitment, and I am involved in several internal projects which aim to improve our services and options to customers. I also support the business development team in the New York office, helping to find the most appropriate solution for new customers

What do you enjoy most about your job? Firstly, the variety of the role. Whilst it has its challenges I get to spend my day with a hardworking and enthusiastic team. I enjoy supporting the team on a range of activities and watching them learn, develop and progress into new roles. I also enjoy that employees play a huge role in influencing change here at the Gorkana Group. The most recent Employee Survey has been a huge driving force behind a number of new initiatives which just shows that each voice can make a difference.

What's the best perk of working here? We have lots of perks including a range of benefits, a good pension and awards for recognition of working to support our Group’s values. I was recently selected as the Outstanding Employee of 2013, and look forward to my trip to Mexico later this year.

What training and development have you had at Gorkana Group? The Gorkana Group has a robust training scheme, and I’ve participated in sessions ranging from communication skills to interview skills. I’ve also had the opportunity to complete my first level of Six Sigma, as well as benefiting from several personal development sessions with my line manager. I’ve also recently had the opportunity to spend time with our team in the New York office which has helped to build my understanding of our US client base. There is a lot of good work happening in this area so I am very positive about the future opportunities

How have you progressed your career so far within the company? I’ve just celebrated my third year at Gorkana Group and have been on a bit of a journey. In 2011 I started as an Account Manager in the Not-for-Profit and Government sector. In 2012 I took on extra responsibilities and started to manage a small team in the Telecom and Utilities sector, and most recently I was appointed into my current role as Sector Operations Manager in 2013. At all times I’ve been fully supported in my career development by Senior Management and my peers. I’ve also been lucky enough to work in a tenacious and hardworking environment, reflected in the growth of our department over the last two years. I enjoy the challenge and fast paced environment.

Melanie Cervera
Melanie Cervera
Team Leader, European News Team

What is your position at Gorkana and what does this entail? I joined Gorkana 4 years ago. I am now Team Leader of the European team, which is part of the News Team database. We look after the data of 9 different countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy and Benelux). I take care of the day to day running of the team which involves working with sales and account management to make sure we hit deadlines to onboard clients. In addition I organise projects the team is working on, recruit and train the team, and work on different projects to expand the data.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I love working in a multilingual environment, organising projects and being a problem solver. My team is extremely hard-working so it’s a pleasure to work with them as they love a good challenge. It is such an exciting time for team Europe. We are expanding so we are in a very vibrant environment. I also love seeing people in my team evolve and take on responsibilities and so try to facilitate this as much as I can.

How would you describe the culture of the business? One of the values of the group is “Team player” and I couldn’t agree more. I see it every day in the News team. We are all working towards the same goal which is to have the best data and offer our customers the best experience. We all work together to achieve this. I’m not saying there isn’t a bit of friendly competition going on, but we never lose sight of the fact that we are a team.

What’s the biggest perk of working here? Having the opportunity to interact with different and interesting people every day. I will never forget the day I called this very famous French journalist and had a conversation with her. I was trying to act cool and professional on the phone but really in my head I was listing all the people I was going to call afterwards back home in France to brag about this. On the News team we also attend different events. Last week I went to an event where I saw the Queen. I could not believe it, she was right there, standing in front of me. My picture even made it into the Daily Mail, although admittedly I was in the background of the shot because the Queen took centre stage.

What training and development have you had since joining the business? Every step of my career here at Gorkana, I have received relevant training and refreshers to help me approach my different roles with confidence. I have attended time management training, business writing, communication, sales and various management courses.

How have you progressed your career so far since joining Gorkana? Well I started as a Media Executive in the News team on the UK side of the database, where I stayed for almost 2 years. I then became Media Executive looking after French data in the European team, then Account Manager for France, Deputy Team Leader and then finally Team Leader. When I joined Gorkana, I thought I would stay a year to get some experience in a UK company, and then return to my roots in PR, but I have been trusted and given opportunities to develop new skills, and that is why I am still here, 4 years later.

Why do you think someone should choose to work here rather than anywhere else? Definitely the people. We support each other and there are so many interesting characters! From where I sit I can see Gavin helping Juri out in the training team, in my team, Anna is shadowing our alert editor and I have just received an email from Ben and Tara about their meeting with Stephanie Jones in the Sky News offices. It is 9.15 and the office is already buzzing...Need I say more!

Rachel Mullaney
Rachel Mullaney
Media Team Leader

What is your position at Gorkana and what does this entail? I am a team leader for the financial/B2B hub on our news team. We maintain Gorkana’s media database – in particular building relationships within the financial and trade sector. A typical day consists of contacting journalists by telephone, email and in person, detailed research, identifying PR opportunities, breaking media news in our daily media alerts and in general making sure we are providing PR’s with the services that they need.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the interaction with people, whether that is my colleagues, the journalists we spend most of our day contacting, or our PR clients. Everyone is really friendly, and it makes the role more enjoyable and varied.

How would you describe the culture of the business? I know it sounds a little corny, but there is great team spirit at Gorkana. We all have specialist areas of expertise and knowledge sharing is a big part of why we work so well as an organisation.

What’s the biggest perk of working here? I enjoy the central location (with Shoreditch just around the corner), and I also make use of the company benefits such as the dental plan and work cash back website.

How have you progressed your career so far since joining Gorkana? I joined the company as a recent graduate in October 2009 firstly as a temp on our forward features team collating editorial calendars and synopsises, then as a member of our data team verifying the media outlets on our database. Realising how much I enjoyed the media industry I applied for a media executive role on the news team in January 2010 and was promoted to team leader in June 2012.

Why do you think someone should choose to work here rather than anywhere else? I think that as a well known brand within the PR industry, Gorkana really stands out. For graduates or those first starting out in their career it’s an ideal place to develop knowledge of how the media industry works, across a broad spectrum of areas. For those with more experience we offer such a diverse range of services that there is always room to branch out into other departments, or even help develop a new service that we could be offering to our clients.