PROSPECT PRESENTS WALTER JENNINGS


Walter is Managing Partner (HK and CHINA) at Kreab Gavin Anderson. We find out more about him and the challenges he faces.

How did you end up in PR?

In my senior year at university we had a six week break over Christmas. I went to New York city and met alumni and asked if I could work for free. Five out of five said yes. The VP at Hill & Knowlton was so friendly and persuasive I did my internship there. Before I graduated they made me a job offer. It was an easy choice! 

Biggest PR pet peeve?

I hate clip books. I hate when people come in with a thick wad of articles. Is that a measure of success? No – it’s an outcome. And what’s inside those articles? Are they mentions? I’d trade a wad of mentions for a smart feature. Please. Don’t show me clip books. 

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role/PR in Asia?

There are enormous cultural differences between Chinese and Western companies. It can be hard to gain acceptance of the value of professional communications in a culture where transparency and openness hasn’t been the norm. That said the new wave of Chinese firms understand the potential of real engagement. 

What do you absolutely love about your job?

Two things – first and foremost I love the diversity. Each day I have a plan of what I’ll achieve and by day’s end reality has interfered. Second I am amazed every day by the growth and capabilities of upcoming professionals. It’s wonderful to watch teammates adapt to new challenges and create amazing work. 

Where can find you on the weekends? Any favourite places to eat/see/do?

I work in Central and live in Clearwater Bay. My home overlooks Lobster Bay (which is as nice as it sounds). I jokingly say my home is like a cruise ship. I board on Friday night and leave it Monday morning. In Hong Kong it’s nice to have a sanctum. 

Who do you admire in this industry and why?

Public relations professionals are knee deep in the most explosive, challenging and profound issues of the day. I learn from our fellow PR practitioners as they handle product recalls, company collapses, government interventions and more. Together we can manage any issue, any day. That’s really impressive. 

What could you not live without?

I need music and find it helps accentuate whatever mood I am in. Rainy day music offsets sad days. Dance music gets me jumping around. When working on a complex problem non-stop electronic chill helps me stay focused. I notice the absence of music. 

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The skills that got you that promotion are not the skills you need to succeed in your new job. Don’t coast. If you get a new role then up-skill. Keep learning! 

What do you look for on a CV?

To start it’s relevant experience and education. But after that I look at “stick-to-it-iveness.” How long have you been at your job? Do you change every 18 months? I need to see commitment. I’m not a stepping stone for your next career move. I do want you to succeed here but that can’t be measured in months. 

Where will you be in  5 years time?

I’m a terrible future planner. I can’t say and I know that means I may not achieve anything! I do know I will be learning and teaching. I’ll be writing and reading. I’ll be challenging myself and I’ll probably be disappointed I haven’t done more. I want Kreab Gavin Anderson to be the preeminent strategic communications consultancy in Greater China. I hope in five years I’m here in charge of a larger, smarter, faster, innovative firm where it’s still a joy to come to work every day.

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