BOSS WOMAN SERIES 226 | Mel from Elm Communication

What is your drink of choice? (doesn’t have to be alcoholic)

I am unable to start the day without a cup of earl grey tea, but at the end of a long week, particularly in summer, I can be found with a cold crisp glass of rose in hand. 

Tell us about YOU?

I am a proud Canberran, having lived here for almost 20 years after moving into town to go to the University of Canberra.

In my spare time, I love nothing more than spending time with my husband and two crazy Labradoodles, pottering in my veggie garden, cooking up a storm in the kitchen or heading out to try a new café or bar. I’m also a big traveller and love the experience of new sights, cultures and adventures. 

When not at work or with my little furry family, I keep myself busy as a member of the Management Committee of the Canberra Environment Centre, a local not for profit education centre that empowers people to create a sustainable future for the Canberra community. This year I am also President of the International Association of Business Communicators, a membership body for communications professionals here in the nation’s capital. 

Tell us about Elm Communications and how it came to be?

I have spent my career working in communications. I am often asked what that means – what do I do every day? In its simplest form, I help organisations to get their information to the people that need it. I help them figure out who their audience is, what the audience is interested in, what to say to them, and how to get the information to them in the way that will work best for both sides. 

For almost two decades, I have worked in communications across government, not-for-profit and the private sector in Australia and the United Kingdom. Before starting my own business in 2018, I managed a communications team in the Australian government, working on climate change policy and administration.

After ten years working in one of the most hotly debated topics of our lifetime, I decided I needed to move on to some new subject matter. I am passionate about communications and wanted to spend more time doing and less time in Executive meetings. And so, Elm Communications was born. 

I thought I would just do it for a year, a little career break. Four years on, I love moving from client to client and learning about new topics from weather in space to organ donation, OHS during the pandemic to biosecurity of our online purchases. It’s been a fascinating ride!

Do you have any lessons learnt/things you would do differently for those starting out in the business world? 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! When I started out, I thought it would be quite competitive with other communications consultants – all of us vying for the same work. Instead, I found a network of supportive, encouraging, and generous people who work together and help each other out. 

Initially, I was afraid to ask them (or anyone) for help. I didn’t want to appear like I didn’t know what I was doing. Once I realised everyone was so willing to share, life as a small business owner became so much easier. All of a sudden, I wasn’t alone. 

How can we support Elm Communications? 

After four years, I am still relatively new to business, so I love talking to other small business owners about their tips and tricks. Their advice is still so valuable to me. Reach out and say hi!

You can also tell anyone you know working in government looking for communications advice to head our way 😉

Any advice for those who are thinking about turning their dreams into a reality?

Jump! What is the worst that can happen? You have to go get another job if it doesn’t work out. Be smart about it. Don’t commit heaps of money upfront, do your research before you begin but don’t stop yourself because you are scared.

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