Name and job title: Lucia Maclachlan, Account Manager
I hear you just celebrated your first anniversary at Copper. Congratulations!
What attracted you to infrastructure communications?
Yes, thank you – it’s gone so quickly!
I think like most people, I completely fell into it. Following a degree in Media and Communications, I started off my career at a design communications agency in my home town on the east coast, working with brands to improve their customer experience through PR, design communications and website development. Part of their engagement portfolio was a new nuclear energy project and some housing developments, and the opportunity arose for me to become more involved – which I leapt at. I always knew I wanted to work in an industry that made a real, tangible difference, and this felt like a good place to start.
I doubt I’m alone in this, but my friends and family didn’t (and to be honest still don’t!) understand the value of infrastructure, and just how relevant it is to our everyday lives. It quite literally underpins everything we do, from getting a glass of water to driving to work; from switching on the lights to travelling abroad. Being an integral part of making that possible is one of the most exciting things about my job.
So, you moved from Suffolk to Bristol so that you could work at Copper? How did you arrive at your decision to do that?
From my experience working on pre-application consultation for a new nuclear power station and a couple of property projects, I caught the infrastructure bug. I knew that I wanted to specialise in infrastructure and development, and just happened to fall upon the job advertisement on LinkedIn one evening. I applied, not thinking too much of it – it was my dream job, but it was quite literally on the other side of the country and what are the chances, right? But from the minute I met Andy Weaver, Director of Infrastructure, and Martin McCrink, Managing Partner, and spoke to them about what Copper does, I knew that it was the place for me – geography didn’t come in to it.
What is it about complex communications that you enjoy?
It’s the human element. I’ve always been interested in all forms of communication: from writing, to watching the news, to reading what feels like enough books to fill the Library of Congress. When you mix those things with how individuals understand and interpret things differently, and focus on an industry that has such an impact on all of us, it’s really very exciting.
That, and I’m a bit of a geek. I like to understand the specific details of what it is I’m communicating on a granular level. I once stayed an extra two hours in a seminar to learn about the phasing of the construction of a highway upgrade – whilst not integral to my day-to-day tasks (it was a project in the pre-application stage!), it helped me understand the context in which I communicated that specific project moving forward, and considered what else those who were affected by that project might be thinking about.
How would you sum up your year at Copper?
Exciting, challenging and full of opportunities.
Can you give us some examples?
There’s always room to grow. You’re in charge of what you get involved in, and there’s always opportunity to expand your own, and Copper’s, knowledge into new markets. We’re all encouraged to expand our learning, leading to not just new business opportunities, but also opportunities to market ourselves and take a lead in our personal growth.
My personal highlight of my first year at Copper was holding a seminar at the University of West England for MSc planning students, about the statutory and social responsibility of effective consultation and engagement for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects with Andy.
What would your top piece of advice be for someone who wants to work in complex communications?
Read the news. Even if it’s one article a day, follow a story from start to end and see how it evolves. Think about the audiences you’d need to reach, how you’d frame things, what you would focus on if you were in charge of the narrative. But more importantly, give it a go. If you’re not in the industry already and not in a position to change careers drastically, try volunteering. What about having a go at running communications for a local community group?
If you’re considering a career in communications, complex, infrastructure-related or otherwise, and have questions, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to help!