Meredith Lynch is the Vice President of WE Communications UK and is responsible for leading their UK technology practice. She is also the head of the technology sector in EMEA. 

Meredith Lynch

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?

I’ve been with WE Communications for almost 17 years. When I moved to our London office in August 2012, I became a member of our EMEA board where we have a responsibility for shaping the agency’s direction in the region, with a focus on the experience our customers have. In my current role I lead our UK technology practice which has won awards for our work with clients like Aruba HPE and Microsoft Windows & 4Afrika.   More recently my role has expanded as head of our technology sector in EMEA which is a brilliant opportunity to continue our multi-market focus – especially as business becomes more and more global, and technology companies are (for the first time ever) considered more valuable than oil brands.

Originally from the United States, I grew up in the South which is a very conservative part of the world, not excluding my household. My family has been in North Carolina since the late 1800s and we have very deep roots in that part of the world. It was somewhat uncommon for a woman in our family history to have a university degree, or a formal career outside of the home or church. As the first woman in my family to earn a university degree and build a career from it, it’s an achievement I’m very proud of.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

In my second year at university, I really started to think about what I wanted to do. I had some phenomenal professors who encouraged me to pursue a degree in communications given my strengths in argumentation and debate. So, yes – I did actively sit down and plan my career, and I’m so thankful for the advice of those brilliant professors. Communication is key to everything we do, it’s the most human thing in a very technical world, it can make or break a relationship of any size or scale, and there have never been more ways to communicate.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

The biggest challenges I’ve faced can all be connected to one thing – courage. Whether this is dealing with somebody who has more courage than they should, or struggling to find enough of my own, there has been a common theme. I’ve learnt that there is no one right or wrong answer to any challenge or opportunity in communications, we work in the grey area most of the time. Our field demands that we have the courage to trust our instincts every day. I don’t instinctively have the loudest voice in the room, so I’ve had to build the courage every day to articulate and stand behind my unique perspective.

How do you start your workday and how does it end?

In my dreams I’d wake up for a workout at 4:30, followed by a scan of the news and breakfast with my family. In reality, because we’re a global organisation with global clients, I start my day at about 5:00 with a review of what’s happened in the US overnight and my priorities for the day. With a mix of client and new business deadlines requiring organisational and people-focused needs, my day often consists of balancing those essentials. It’s important that I spend time on the things that make me a better leader and consultant as well, so I always make time to read and look for external trainings and events that can help me and my team connect more dots. My day can end anywhere between 19:00-22:00 – and when I make it home in time, I make the time to reconnect with my family and make sure I’m close to what’s happening at school and work.

Tell us a little bit about your role and how did that come about?

I spent the first 12 years of my career with WE Communications (formerly Waggener Edstrom) at our Portland office in the US focused on one of our biggest partnerships, Microsoft. It was a phenomenal education in effective and impactful communications – no other brand invests more in their storytelling, influencer engagements and overall communications programme. In early 2012, after requesting an opportunity to take on an international role, the agency asked me to lead on our Microsoft work in EMEA. It was an easy “yes.”

After the first six months I took on the UK technology practice – and have been leading both for the last four years. In July 2016, my sector role expanded to head of technology for the region. With that I am responsible for making sure we’re known as experts in communications for technology brands in the UK, Germany and South Africa – and ensuring we have the right set of talent, services and perspective to help technology brands navigate the stories in motion within the technology space.

Have you ever had a mentor or a sponsor or anyone who has helped your career?

I’ve had not one but several people throughout my career whom I’ve learned from, but I’ve never had an official mentor or sponsor. Regardless of formality, we can learn from just about everyone. I’ve had some incredible managers who supported and coached me, and some who didn’t – and I learned, from both, what to do and not to do. Some of the most effective growth opportunities come from painful mistakes, and if you aren’t making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risk, and you’re likely not learning much.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I want women to have more courage in the workplace. Much of what gets in our way is us – not always, but in my experience, often enough. We need to be unapologetic and relentless in the pursuit of what’s possible.

How do you think we could encourage more girls into a career in STEM?  

The best way to encourage girls to consider a career in STEM is to give more of them hands on experience, guidance and support. There are some impressive programmes like AppsForGood which is (not coincidentally run by a remarkable woman) doing this incredibly well today, and which could be even more effective with more support and scale.

If you were to look back in five years, what would you see in terms of your achievements?

I would see the continued growth of our business in the region led by the extraordinary talented people (women and men) I have the fortune of working with every day. WE Communications will be the well-established brand in EMEA that it is in the US, and we’ll have more women in key leadership roles around the world.

Tell us about your plans for the future?

I’d love to open the next regional WE Communications office wherever it may be, and I am incredibly optimistic about our success as a company in motion. I look forward to watching my boys go to university and seeing them achieve the potential I see in them.