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What Edelman and Mary Poppins have in Common?



I was sitting down with my two young girls to watch Disney´s “Mary Poppins” for at least the third time on New Year´s Day, aware the lazy Holiday afternoons were coming to an end and it was soon back to work for me. Having not seen the children´s classic for around 30 years, I viewed “Mary Poppins” with fresh eyes and started to think about it in terms of how we will work in 2013, and specifically how we work at Edelman.

Made in 1964, the movie is set in 1910 Central London, which was being hugely impacted by the commercial, technology and social opportunities created by the industrial revolution. The impact was as dramatic for certain sections of British society much as the current digital revolution is having dramatic impacts.

In the film, head of the family Mr. Banks had a busy senior position in a major city bank and was overworked.  How would he find Edelman in 2013? He´s focussed, ambitious, driven… however he concentrated so much on life within the Bank he didn´t have any recognition of the world around him, particularly his family with his wife concentrating on the Suffragettes and his two children trying to work out what life was all about. It is only when Mr. Banks´ job was in jeopardy that his eyes were opened and he observed the stunning London city architecture and people who he walked past every day. Importantly it dawned on him how personal fulfilment can and should contribute to your work life. In over simplified terms flying a kite and a few choice words from Mary got him his job back and gave him “joie de vivre” enabling him to enjoy his family and his career.

Mary Poppins and chimney sweep Bert on the other hand appreciated street art, the weather, music, dance, friends and importantly the different skills and characteristics of the people around them. They were natural visual story tellers, put passion into their jobs and their pastimes, worked as a team, were solutions-led and certainly were innovative.

A few weeks ago Edelman Barcelona hosted a networking event to promote skills and innovation, creating excellent partnerships and new business contacts along the way. Take a look at (right). Since I benefitted from Edelman´s focus on mobility and relocated with my family from London to Barcelona nine months ago, I can summarise three observations, both from my personal experience and lessons from “Mary Poppins” that shone through that December evening:

  1. Edelman people don’t just talk about working at a global company. They are truly international as they flex in their communications styles and storytelling techniques.
  2. Together we are better. We know how to benefit from individuals skills in teams and work hard to work together.
  3. We are ceaselessly creative.

In a struggling economy Mary Poppins would have fitted in well with her motivation, good humour, drive and sense of achievement. I know I won´t be hearing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” across the Edelman corridors and nor would I want to, but the spirit is there! Happy New Year.

Hannah West is an EVP in Barcelona.

Image by starrynight_012.

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