pslondon | In conversation with Ellie Atkinson, Strategist

Ellie Atkinson, Strategist

19 February 2023

Kendra RogersHead of Insight & Strategy 375 6465

Ellie is known for her ravenous appetite for curiosity, insight-driven creative solutions, and savvy knowledge of social media. I sat down with her to get her perspective on her role, and how she does what she does so well…

EA: I'm a strategist, which I always find hard to describe because it involves so many things!

Ultimately, it's about understanding people and culture, and connecting the dots between these and business problems to inform creative solutions.

So, I do a lot of research work, such as quantitative and qualitative surveys, one-to-one interviews, focus groups or diving into databases and research reports. Using that kind of approach allows us to uncover robust and original insights that help us look at problems in new ways to understand the most effective solutions for the organisations that we work with.

At ps, we often talk about getting in “the mess”—the mess of the business problem, of the world, of insights, and pulling out something that creates a unique opportunity. This is what I find most exciting—coming up with something original and looking at something in a new, and often challenging way. Then using that to drive change in an organisation or in their approach to make a real impact on their consumers, and even the world.

As a fellow strategist, I really loved how Ellie described that. I know how important curiosity is to a strategist, especially one at ps. And I know first-hand quite how curious Ellie is, so I was keen to know if this was a characteristic she’s always had...

EA: I’ve always been the person who says yes to everything. I was the 6-year-old that when a string quartet came to play at school, was like “I want to learn the violin!” That one actually stuck, and I still play now. A few other things I’ve explored are collecting thimbles (I’ve now reached 100 which is probably quite excessive!), learning archery, collecting stamps, and I even used to be a tennis coach. It’s always been this open-mindedness to saying yes and trying new things that feeds my curiosity and lets me discover new things.

Such a mix of hobbies and talents! After discussing the practicalities of an in-office tennis lesson here in Hoxton, we segued neatly into my next question. What brought her to psLondon?

“At psLondon, it's clear that everyone is driving change at high levels within organisations."

EA: What struck me was the calibre of work that is done at ps, the level of conversations you have and the people you speak to. My background is in social media strategy, which although is exciting and fast-paced, you do tend to feel like you're at the tactical end where big decisions have already been made. Whereas here at ps, it's clear that everyone is driving change at higher levels of the organisation.

So it was this kind of opportunity that excited me, to be able to push myself further and have those challenging conversations that are richer and more meaningful, where you feel like you can make a real impact on the organisation itself.

It’s great to have Ellie on the team and coming from a background in social media (our resident social expert). I was keen to know what drew her to that area of marketing and see whether it was intentional or not...

EA: I think it was unconsciously intentional. I kept on getting drawn into it because it’s something I use every day; it’s just everywhere. And things change literally every day on social media, it’s always new, and there’s a freshness to it which makes it quite exciting to be working with such a constantly innovating medium.

“It’s about connecting the dots within the wider business... then you can use the specialist knowledge to make interesting things happen.”

I wanted to keep that specialism but apply it to the broader landscape of marketing and business. Because it's very dangerous to see things in isolation, it’s actually about connecting the dots within the wider business. Then you can use the specialist knowledge to see how you can approach those specific platforms to make interesting things happen.

As social is a big part of Ellie’s tool belt, I had to know what her favourite and least favourite social media channels were... 

EA: TikTok is my favourite because in 10 minutes, you can scroll and watch a super educational video about something you’ve never heard of before, or a silly video that just makes you laugh. It gives you that whole range of humour, entertainment, inspiration, and education.

My least favourite would be Twitter. It certainly has a significant place in things like politics and journalism, but from a personal, user perspective I would much rather see visuals than scroll through text. TikTok wins the bitesize content battle for me!

Ellie and I often bond over our love of cats, but her love of the animal kingdom took her down a bit more of an entrepreneurial route during lockdown... 

EA: I’m very into painting, specifically watercolour. I’ve always painted gift cards and things for friends and family, and during lockdown thought I’d set up an Instagram account to sell some. I posted a painting I did of a dog, and it just snowballed. A friend told a friend who told a friend, and I ended up with a huge side-hustle painting pet portraits. I loved it, and looking at cute pictures of pets everyday wasn’t a bad way to spend my time locked at home!

We're certainly excited to have such a wonderful mind join us here at psLondon, and as we wrapped up our chat, it was great to hear that the feeling was mutual.

EA: It’s really special to be surrounded by such incredibly kind and talented people here at psLondon. Everyone has that shared drive and ambition to do great work, but also genuinely cares for one another as individuals. It’s really uplifted me and my work, and I’m excited for what’s to come!

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