Portland Profile: Jess Smart

Portland Profile: Jess Smart

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?

At the beginning of my career, I was told to create the opportunities you want. Whether that’s speaking up about the type of organisation you want to work with, or convening an internal working group, there are always plenty of opportunities within the agency world, which is what makes it such a good workplace for growth and development.

What is your favourite part about your role?

By working at Portland, I am lucky to get to work with some of the world’s leading foundations and non-profit organisations and deepen my knowledge of the sector. From interviewing donor governments, to conducting global polling, we use in-depth insights to develop our strategies, and are able to work with talented colleagues across research, creative and public policy to build integrated campaigns that drive action and improve outcomes for communities around the world.

What has been your favourite experience at Portland so far?

This is a tough question, but really any time that our communications activity has led to tangible outcomes. From the launch of the Global Antimicrobial Resistance paper in the Lancet, to the Global Fund’s Seventh Global Fund Replenishment last year, it’s always exciting to see decision makers engage with and take note of our work.

What global health trend should we be looking at for across the rest of 2023?

The global health landscape has never been so complex, with the impact of climate-related disasters, conflict and ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic creating a perfect storm. However, whilst awareness of these issues amongst the media and stakeholders is high, competition between issue areas and global economic downturn is creating pressure for Governments – meaning that to sustain momentum, comms must carefully link action to wider government priorities such as economic growth or health system strengthening.

What do you do to switch off from work?

To switch off from work I love exercising, listening to podcasts, trying new London restaurants and hanging out with my friends and family. I also think about travelling/holidays nonstop, and I’m desperately trying to find a reason to visit our Nairobi office at some point this year!

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