Portland Profile: Oonagh Johnston

Portland Profile: Oonagh Johnston

What excites you about joining Portland?

I feel excited and privileged to be part of a business that wants to make a difference through compelling communications. Portland is a prestigious brand which has a distinct identity and is highly regarded as a heavy weight in the external world of PR. It epitomises high quality, delivered by exceptional talent.

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

Be kind, and treat others as you would like to be treated as you never know what struggles they are going through. I was given this advice very early on in my career and have strived to channel compassion into adversity. I’ve also found it helpful to show your own vulnerability and not take yourself too seriously! 

What type of leader are you and how has your career shaped you into the leader you are today?  

I’m an inclusive leader who sees my role as a coach, enabling others to thrive and supercharge their careers by developing their confidence, energy and strengths. I was lucky to be encouraged and supported in my early career to continuously challenge myself and engage in life long discoveries to build my mindset and skillset to become my best self. This has shaped my leadership beliefs, that by unlocking other’s potential and creating a unified environment you achieve more.  

What are three things’ employers should be thinking about to ensure their employees feel supported in their return to work?

1/ Trust people to make the right choices about where they want to work, to do their best work.  

2/ Build new forms of organisational culture. The crisis has proved we can work anywhere, but as human beings, we generally crave being connected to one another. Our time spent in the office should be about curating great conversations and cultivating new working friendships and positive collaborations. Working from home should not blur personal boundaries, but provide a healthy balance.  

3/ Listen to people about their wellbeing. If they feel uneasy about returning to work, help allay any particular concerns with some practical measures to support them, like staggering travelling time to avoid the rush hours. 

What do you do to switch off from work? 

I’ve learnt to embrace more of my natural creativity. During lockdown I followed my passion and qualified as an interior designer. I also love the healing power of nature and being outside and I managed last year to get an allotment. ‘Lotti’ is my new green sanctuary and my latest challenge to experiment growing anything that the beasties (deer, squirrels, birds and insects) don’t devour. So far, the beasties are winning!     

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