Barri Rafferty is the President and CEO of Ketchum, a leading global public relations firm serving clients in over 70 countries. Ketchum has been named PR Agency of the Year and the winner of an unprecedented three consecutive Campaign of the Year Awards.
She became the first female CEO of a top five global public relations firm at the beginning of 2018. In total, she has worked for Ketchum for 24 years. When asked what her leadership style is, Barri says, “My goal is to bring out the best in the people that work for me. So I feel like as a leader, I’m very much of a coach. I go… I move really fast, so I have to trust the people around me. And I really encourage us to all collaborate and work together. We have a lot of debate on… Any leadership team I ever have, I always think if people aren’t debating and pushing back on me and there’s not a few raised voices, or curse words every now and then, that it’s probably not a good thing, right? We’ve gotta get in it, but we lock arms when we get out. And I also think I am a very nurturing leader too in a lot of ways. I still write birthday and anniversary cards, do personal gifts for the holidays”
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As a leader Barri believes that communication is crucial. Having open, honest communication between employees and leaders really makes a difference in the culture of an organization. One of the ways she listens to her employees is through Glint Pulse surveys that take place three times per year at Ketchum. These surveys allow her to see what issues matter to employees and one issue they are focusing on currently is workplace flexibility.
In order to fully embrace this flexibility Barri understands it is important to make employees know it is available and allow them to take advantage of it without feeling bad about it. They have implemented flex February where everyone shares pictures of where they are working remotely on the company’s social media. They also believe in “Leaving Loudly” which means that instead of trying to sneak out or be quiet about leaving early due to a doctor’s appointment, child’s recital, family event, etc…you should tell people and feel good about it.
Diversity and inclusion is also very important to Barri and her team at Ketchum, especially as they are helping organizations create a message and reach potential clients. So they are working hard to make sure they have diversity in age, race, gender, location, political views, backgrounds, etc…
When asked to give advice to anyone looking to be a better leader, Barri says, “I would say build a style that’s authentic to you, right? I think if you have to put on one persona at home, and one persona at work, it’s hard to be an authentic leader. So if you can build it from your personality, some of us are introverts, some of us are more introverts some are more expressive, some are more amiable, right, you have to start with that foundation and then build around it the leadership skills, but if you can show up at work as a leader true to your core, I think you’re gonna be a better leader, no matter what.”
What you will learn:
How to build confidence as a leader
How Barri keeps up with the fast pace of change
A look at how the company fully embraces workplace flexibility
How Ketchum is removing bias from the hiring process
How Barri describes her leadership style
A look at how Ketchum upskills and trains employees