Staff Q&A: A brief encounter with… Alex Coates


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Here at CDS, we’re incredibly proud of our 170-strong team – after all, they’re the ones who make all the comms magic happen.

That’s why, each month, we’re giving our blog readers the chance to get to know each member of the CDS family, in our new employee Q&A series.

First up in the hot seat, it’s Alex Coates, director of new business and account development. With just 10 minutes on the clock, let’s go…alex

1. Sum up your role at CDS in one sentence:

To create and foster growth in our agency – with a focus on our financial performance, the development of our people and the diversity of work and opportunity we have across the agency.

2. What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I love the variety, the depth of the challenge and the pace. I’m broadly responsible for the customer-facing and commercial aspects of the agency, so one minute I can be supporting the team with a new business pitch, and the next I’m helping or representing a client on their programme board.

3. How did you become a director? (i.e. past jobs, the route taken to CDS)

I have worked in sales and client-facing roles for just over 22 years!

I’ve done everything you can imagine: from door canvassing, telesales and call centre work, to territory management, being an account lead and product owner, right through to taking on the role of sector and regional lead. It was a natural next step – but a huge leap of faith on both sides – to take on the responsibility of the role here at CDS.

4. What drew you towards choosing CDS as an employer?

I was immediately struck by CDS’ focus on social impact, which came out further in the interview process. When recruiting colleagues, they take deep care surrounding the need for cultural and personality fit, not just skills and experience – and this was really refreshing.

Having worked for a plc and three Fortune 500 tech businesses, I felt like I’d ‘done my time’ in the big corporate landscape and it was time to be part of something smaller and UK centric. I stumbled across the role at CDS purely by accident, but it seemed to be the perfect blend for me, given my background and experience.

5. Describe the CDS ethos in just three words:

Driven by values.

6. What’s been your favourite project so far and why?

It was an internal one – to refresh our three-year strategic plan and develop our purpose, vision and values for the agency – which started less than six months into my role. It was incredibly emotive and such a privilege to be part of the process.

7. And, which brand would you love to work on a comms project with?

I’m really quite obsessed with the changing landscape of brands and the rise in belief-driven buyers, consumers and citizens. Ethics, values, social impact and societal issues are now front and centre for a lot of us when considering which brand we’d like to do business with.

As such, for me personally, I’d love to work with a company like Patagonia or The North Face – both of which I have been incredibly loyal to over the years.

8. Complete this sentence: For businesses, employing an effective communications strategy means…

… alignment, engagement and value. Whether this is external or internal, clients and employees need to see the big picture and how they fit in – they want to participate and feel understood.

9. For a bit of fun, if CDS were a variety of biscuit, which would it be and why?

This is actually quite a controversial subject in my function at CDS – we include a similar question in the interview process.

I’ve received so much mockery over my biscuit choices I already feel like I’m destined to disappoint with my response. I’d say a McVitie’s Chocolate Hobnob as it’s a solid, dependable biscuit that gets the job done!

10. Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?

Be tenacious and truthful. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing, and only you can hold yourself back.

I was brought up with the Mark Twain quote, “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”

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