90 Second Interview with Carmen Bruce-Annan
Elinor Lara, Senior Consultant and Communications recruiter at tml Partners, sat down with Carmen Bruce-Annan, Corporate Affairs Leader, ex-Ghana National Oil Company (GNPC), to get her thoughts on career development, influential leadership and marketing trends producing opportunities and challenges for communications leaders.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Where the achievement of critical objectives is subject to senior (Board-level) approval, be flexible and willing to change your scope to achieve results. Understand what is important to your stakeholders and embrace a win-win mindset to strengthen partnerships and secure that all-important approval.
What future opportunities do you think marketing and communications will create over the next five years?
In many ways, we have never faced as much complexity in business and society, whether this is through tech advances or increased polarisation. However, the power of communication to engage and transform remains unchanged. Marketing and communications can drive increased stakeholder value through proactive stakeholder engagement and co-creation, whilst building brand reputation and delivering strategic goals through a greater understanding of corporate strategy, industry insights and macro-environmental factors.
What is your most trusted news source?
It depends on what I’m looking for. I look for trusted sources/experts e.g. I love Ed Conway’s simple, yet in-depth analysis on issues such as the economy, tech and climate. For consumer issues, I’ll check out Martin Lewis/Money Saving Expert. I cross-check traditional media sources for general news e.g., Reuters, BBC, and Sky. For instant, real-time news, I visit twitter…or shall I say ‘X’, though I’ll cross-check a couple of established/trusted sources to avoid fake news! As much as possible, I consider both sides of the argument so I can form my own balanced opinion.
What, or who, has had the most influential impact on your leadership career and why?
My former CEO and CMO at Vodafone, Kyle Whitehill and Uche Ofodile encouraged a culture that thrived on innovation and a continuously creative mindset in the pursuit of huge, challenging goals, backed up with rigorous accountability for performance and delivery. Phrases like ‘a blank sheet of paper’, ‘bigger, bolder, better’ and ‘blood, sweat and tears’ come to mind. Although there was no bloodshed, I learned that these phrases were symbiotic to the mindset and efforts that drove Vodafone’s achievements in that market.
Alexander Mould, my CEO at GNPC left an indelible mark on me with his industry knowledge, relentless work ethic, and can-do attitude; what could not be done did not exist. He also encouraged me as a leader to focus on and invest in the wellbeing of my team to drive greater performance. He called a spade a spade – with brutal frankness at times – and demanded strong performance, accountability and governance.
Kyle and Uche instilled in me creativity, performance and bravery. Alex taught me resilience and continuous improvement and how to show up for my team by demonstrating leadership and care. They have shaped who I am as a leader.
How do you maximise hybrid working?
If I’m honest, I’m still trying to perfect the balance, but I need a healthy dose of a couple of days in the office each week! My work from home days are usually reserved for strategic and creative tasks that require individual focus thinking, bringing my inbox up-to-date and administrative tasks e.g., approvals and performance management. I always join team days in the office, and schedule 1:1’s and in-person meetings for outcomes that require collaboration, problem solving, brainstorming. I also organise lunches and coffees on office days, which are great ways of building relationships offline!
If you could go back 10 years, what career advice would you give yourself?
Being a working mother requires additional focus. Map out your career objectives and moves with precision and ahead of your children’s key education milestones, to ensure you don’t miss out on great career opportunities. Context: I was offered a role in another international market but had to turn it down as my eldest was doing her A-levels and my son had started his GCSEs. I couldn’t disrupt them with a move. I realised I should have pursued this move earlier.
What’s the toughest interview question you’ve ever asked or been asked?
“Do you have any regrets?”, is the toughest question I have been asked. I wish I had done my MBA much earlier, so I could have used this knowledge and benefit from it over a longer period. I kept putting it off on account of the time and cost. I should have realised these were not going to change and focussed to get it done.
Who is your business hero and why?
Aisha Ayensu, the founder and designer of the ‘Christie Brown’ clothing label. Like me, she was inspired by her grandmother. In Aisha’s case, she developed her passion for clothing watching her grandmother work. It’s been inspirational supporting and watching her brand grow from Ghana, to the African continent, designing costumes for Beyonce, featuring on Netflix’s “The Perfect Find” and into retailers around the world including Selfridges. I founded Redwood Universal because of my grandmother. She had amazing work ethic and achievements despite being denied a formal education. Now, Redwood, will equip children with learning skills so they can achieve their full potential.
Who are tml Partners?
tml Partners are Marketing and Corporate Affairs recruitment specialists with access to a global network of leaders.
To learn how tml Partners can help you, get in touch with Elinor Lara: