Amanda Lee joined the Prospect team in June 2020 as Director and Head of Singapore. Making placements for clients in the public relations and communications industry is nothing new to Amanda who has already established a reputation in this field. Her expertise in recruitment follows a decade-long career in corporate affairs within agencies and corporations. We really enjoy working with Amanda as she leverages her understanding of the communications industry to make considered recommendations that meet the needs of candidates and clients.
We thought it was about time we put Amanda in the hot-seat and ask her a few questions, so you too can meet Amanda:
Why did you make the switch from PR/Comms to recruitment?
I genuinely love the PR industry and I think there’s nothing like the craft of communications. You need experience and technical skills, of course, but what’s as important is how one deeply aligns with the direction and values of the brand you’re communicating for. Public Relations is very much a people business; recruiting for the Public Relations business, is “the business of people in a people business”. It seems like a big change, but as a specialist recruiter in PR & Communications, I feel more connected to the industry than before.
Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
After starting my communications career on the client-side, my move to a communications consultancy has become so important to the way I work. The constant demands on rigor and creativity, the variety of sectors, the different clients, balancing teamwork and personal growth – these skills have stayed with me even after I left the agency. I will always remember what Shih-Huei, then CEO of Bell Pottinger Asia and now Klareco Communications, said to me during my interview, “If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing”. That advice has stayed with me. No matter how challenging a client or brief is, I try to remember why I am doing the work.
What are the most important things you look for when you see a new candidate?
Whenever I speak with a new candidate, I want to get to know them and understand where they are in their work lives and personal lives. I would not try to force-fit someone into a role if I personally don’t see the benefit for them. I appreciate it when a candidate is able to articulate what is their next learning milestone. This shows that they are tracking their own progress and are trying to keep learning. This also allows me to recommend roles that are in line with their areas of improvements and interests and suggest other ideas that they might not have thought about. I love talking to candidates who are self-aware and honest about their strengths and areas of improvement. If they have an understanding of the world and how the communications landscape is changing in response, even better. People who understand how businesses make money. People who are positive and want to contribute. It is easy to be cynical but it’s more rewarding to be hopeful.
What tips do you have for anyone in the PR/Comms industry who is looking to find a job or change jobs during this period?
During this challenging period, we’ve seen how the fundamentals of businesses have been tested, and what is perhaps less obvious is how the fundamental resilience of people is being tested. Research has shown that after a pandemic, there is evidence of long-lasting anxiety and soaring mental health issues. There is still a lot of stigma around mental health in Asia, and people are not as comfortable talking about what they’re dealing with. Even those with jobs during this time, can experience anxiety, guilt and increased isolation.
While the market currently is tough, there are still companies hiring and opportunities are out there, but you need to be more patient. Take this time to think about your career and refine your direction. Improve your CV, build your networks, get interview coaching, ask for feedback on how you can improve in your work… also, don’t forget to reflect and recharge.
Ultimately, I think we all need to connect to what gives us strength and purpose; find work that not just puts food on the table, but also give us fulfillment and growth; and when a lot of news out there can be so negative, it is important to make sure we also counter that by feeding ourselves positive experiences and affirmations.
What is your take on the current PR/Comms job market in Singapore?
There is uncertainty and change on the ground, but I am confident that the PR & Comms industry is here to stay and will only keep evolving. The art and science of managing reputations and building trust will continue to be more important than ever. As I’ve been speaking with clients and candidates, I’ve found that many are taking the responsibility to learn and are picking up new skills online. With more content available online, there’s a real appetite to use this time purposefully, picking up digital or leadership skills. There will always be a place for communicators who can understand the wider, highly complex world, who can speak the language of business, and are clear-sighted and specific on the outcomes.
How have you been keeping sane?
I count myself incredibly lucky to have moved into a wonderful new neighbourhood at the end of last year. During this Covid-19 Circuit Breaker period in Singapore, I have gotten to know my neighbours quite well. There is a real sense of community as we looked out for each other and made sure we had enough food and essentials. We also started a high-rise ‘veggie garden’, and now have thriving shiso, nai bai (bok choy), rosemary, lemon balm, kang kong (morning glory), thyme, basil, spinach, dill, cat grass… We even have enough to give away to the neighbours. Next up is to try growing some fruit, so if anyone has any advice on growing delicious fruit in our climate, I would love to hear your tips!
Please contact Amanda if you would like recruitment support or career guidance.
Director, Head of Singapore