28 July 2022
“The meaning of Consilium” by Founder and Managing Partner, Mary-Jane Elliott
Approaching 10 years on, setting up a financial PR firm in London with two kids under two was a challenge I hadn’t planned on setting myself.
With the backing of an understanding and supportive other half and two great colleagues as co-founders, including Amber Fennell who has worked with me since 2010, off we went and successfully launched Consilium Strategic Communications in the Summer of 2013. Asked recently where the name Consilium came from – it is of course Latin and means advice, wisdom, purpose and judgment. All skills we at Consilium apply in our daily lives for our clients.
High but managed growth, a lot of hard work, determination, stamina and great people working with us who were keen to join our unleashed independence, we have grown this specialist advisory business to almost 45 staff internationally with an enviable portfolio of healthcare clients globally.
My goal, simply put, was to grow a leading healthcare focused financial PR and corporate communications agency to be the best in its industry and I thank all of our staff now and along the way, and the trust and loyalty of our clients, current, new and (s)old, in helping us achieve this.
Running an unconstrained business, healthily competing with the older firms has been extremely satisfying. We have significant experience, grit and determination, passion, positivity, energy, thoughtfulness and sheer bloody-mindedness! Something I’ve been told I’ve had since secondary school and it certainly gets me through.
Along my career path, I’ve learnt from good people how to get things right and to treat people well and, bizarrely, I’ve been lucky to work with and for people who have got things wrong and I know a lot revolves around good community and culture. Having seen other managers make mistakes that could have been avoidable with a bit more thought and effort, I’ve enjoyed building a group of people who behave in a way according to our values which has enabled the Consilium brand to build itself. I am obsessed by our team, hiring the right people, not hiring the wrong people however seductive that appears to be at the time, retaining good people and creating a good community for Consilium, our clients, and ourselves. It's not always perfect, but each individual contributes something very special, creating symbiotic growth and enabling the success of the whole.
I’ve also learnt to employ people who do things I can’t and ones willing to do jobs that would take me too long. We can all be different, we just need the right attitude. At Consilium we have a positive, diverse, dynamic, hardworking culture. Paramount is our positive and collaborative approach. Consilium employs the most fantastic group of people. A diverse workplace is vital nowadays, certainly a refreshing change from my early days in the City, and we have it, which brings about an authenticity that keeps our culture and working environment safe and a place we want to belong.
Kindness and fairness are key personal values of mine. In both my personal life and at work, I’m very open, honest, I overly communicate, tell people far too much and far too personally and frequently, but it hasn’t come back to bite me yet. My most passionate work is with clients I enjoy working for – where they need me, put trust in me, drive me and value my input.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m proud to say our Consilium values came through strongly. At our all-staff offsite last month we worked on refreshing our values, testing these against our personal values and how we would be guided by these in all that we do at work. Taking a look at the softer aspects behind these, our people are happy, jokey, supportive and fluid with each other and these are some of our invisible, yet most valuable, assets. We don’t take ourselves too seriously at Consilium and we’ve been able to maintain and foster this over the years. For me, and the reason I come to work, is the people and to achieve job satisfaction, have fun and achieve a goal.
Speaking of goals, people often ask me what’s the end goal and in a perhaps sensitive way I say: “to keep growing the Consilium business and to keep being the best – there isn’t an end goal to sell a stake or ever stop working” and they look at me like I’m mad! I can’t say it enough: I want our people to enjoy their jobs as much as I do, to keep our brand and community growing, to continue to expand in our current international markets and beyond, to possibly expand into other complementary sectors, certainly to add to our offering and to keep being the best.
We’ve assembled our team by hiring a diverse group of high quality, senior staff from investment banks, journalism, large pharma and our competitor firms. Some of my proudest moments have been having various staff return to the firm due to our excellence and enticing the best operators from our rivals knowing our independence, kind culture, ambition and drive plus the ability to reward and make all staff shareholders makes Consilium a more attractive place to work. For our staff, our focus, ambition and supportive community is unbeatable. For our clients, our understanding of the healthcare sector and our tenacity continues to clearly set us apart.
Over the years, our multinational offering has also broadened – out of pure-play financial PR into including corporate communications, digital communications and crisis management all sitting under the umbrella of our focus: healthcare. Nine years on and we now provide advice and wisdom to more than 80 clients globally, including some of the most cutting-edge companies in the world, large pharma, biotech, services/care homes, diagnostics, medical devices, investment funds/VCs, health and digital technology and some leading healthcare charities.
Consilium’s fifth anniversary back in 2018 was celebrated with a team sky dive (the most exhilarating thing I’ve done since giving birth!), and I look forward to updating you all on our 10th anniversary plans next year which I know will involve another major party for all our clients and contacts and some other exhilarating experiences, including the Consilium ski trip for our wonderful colleagues!