Natasha Hatherall-Shawe
Success Stories

Natasha Hatherall-Shawe “My journey has naturally led to me empowering other women”

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Natasha Hatherall-Shawe

Founder and CEO of TishTash Communications

“My journey has naturally led to me empowering other women”

Natasha Hatherall-Shawe

Natasha (or Tash as she likes to be known) has over 20 years experience in the marketing, media and PR world. Born and educated in the UK, Tash holds a PhD in psychology and marketing and has a genuine passion for people and understanding what makes them tick.

With a varied career across account management, media planning and buying, public relations and marketing, Tash’s experience spans clients in many sectors, beauty, fashion, FMCG, travel, financial, retail, automotive and property. Her CV includes leading global agencies McCann Erickson Worldwide, Euro RSCG and Havas Global, and global corporations L’Oreal and Diageo.

What do you believe are the key elements to a successful women’s empowerment program within an office?

We have a 100% female workforce at TishTash Communications and we have created a working environment designed especially for women’s needs to show when their needs are met how women can flourish and have a true shot at equity/equality going forward. Implementing true flexibility and a myriad of women’s health policies we are growing 50% YOY, have a happy and loyal workforce and are producing brilliant award winning marketing and comms work for our clients. As a business we are fiercely female focused and people orientated and want to show how happy people translates into business success.

Whilst I’ve adopted an extreme approach to supporting and empowering women in the workforce, the most important element for any business wishing to make a difference here is to start with communication and then empathy. Firstly, talk to your team and recognise their challenges and needs and the areas they may need support. From that end, you can craft policies and design a working environment that supports them through their particular life stage, whether that is as parents, through health challenges, the menopause or similar. Having suitable training opportunities and a clear progression path and appraisal system is important for employees to feel valued and engaged. Again, if you are just starting this journey – the very first step is clear communications and really listening to your staff and what it is that a) they need and b) want from their working environment.

How has your experience as a publicist and PR expert enabled you to empower other women?

As an experienced publicist and PR with over 20 years experience and now an agency owner with over 50 female staff members, my journey has naturally led to me empowering other women but in various ways. Firstly, to offer employment, but truly flexible employment that serves women at various life stages and needs, and secondly through the actual work that we do on behalf of clients, many of whom are female. To power and amplify their brands, businesses and services through the market visibility as we do helps them thrive and usually, pay it forward to more women also.  I’m proud to represent some truly amazing women and female focused brands all committed to being the best they can be.

What advice would you give to women who are looking to break into the industry?

PR is not for the faint hearted and I’m always very honest about this with anyone looking to get into the industry. It’s definitely not all glamour and parties. It’s hard work and it makes the Top 5 most stressful jobs list every year for a reason.   With this said, it is a very varied and rewarding career and rarely is any day the same.  As an industry we have  huge, natural crossover into digital media and events, and currently we see a lot of interest there as a career choice. My advice would be to have as many skills in the modern comms field as you can – even if just a little bit of knowledge. Photography, videography, editing, graphic design, social media management, design content creation or even mastery of specific platforms and how they work is crucial now. For traditional media relations, being a good writer is a must, and a curiosity for current affairs and general knowledge, upskill where you can – when you can!

What inspired you to become a publicist and start your own PR agency?

Like many, I never planned to get into PR. I did all my education and early career in psychology!  I do believe life gets you to where you are destined to be though. 

I am actually a typical ‘accidental entrepreneur’ – someone who literally never intended to start a traditional business, and by traditional I mean with a group of employees, office space and differing streams of income – I feel that this is very different to being a ‘solopreneur’  – which is really what I intended for myself after I left my last full time role 13 years ago. I was planning on taking a break before working as a freelancer for a while – and well,  the rest is history!

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the process of building and running your agency?

Any business owner can tell you that the journey into starting and growing your own business isn’t easy and it is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. It is usually the same issues that crop up whatever the industry. Cash flow is a perennial problem, as often people do not pay on time and this has an effect all of the way down the line. People management can also be tricky until established processes and pathways are in place and also when you reach stages of growth, this can bring new, but positive challenges as we force ourselves out of our natural comfort zones.

What do you think has been the biggest factor in your success ?

Tenacity, kindness and hard work have all played the biggest part. Tenacity to keep going and building over twelve years including recessions and a global pandemic. Kindness because it is my biggest value and I know that my relationships and business is stronger because of this attitude toward everyone around me and hard work, because this is the bedrock of any successful business – very few of us are handed things on a plate!

What tips would you give to other women aspiring to build their own successful business?

Have a strong idea – something you are truly passionate about – because to build a successful business, there will be times that you will wish you had never started,  so having a clear goal and passion for what you do is the thing that will keep you going.

Do solid market research  – what you think your potential customers may want or be looking for might not be what they need – give yourself the best start.

Start lean, leave your ego at the door and work hard!

What have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced in your career?

Again, starting and running my own business for  the past 12 years has been harder than I could ever have imagined. It is the hardest thing I have ever done truly and it’s given me the highest highs and lowest lows.  Looking back now I always say the things I expected to be a challenge were not and those I thought would be fine turned out to be the biggest hurdles. 

I do think imposter syndrome, as is now much talked about, was very much a thing for me. Even now somedays I look around in my office and at the size of business I have and I want to hide under my desk and have serious moments of self-doubt. I do believe this comes from a place of care and wanting to do the best and be the best you can be.

Mindset generally is a massive area I’ve had to do a lot of work on and continue to do so every day. Ultimately, moving through stages of growth can bring uncomfortable feelings and risk. Moving from small through medium to large size business sees a shift in mindset necessary that is hard to accommodate for women, as we tend to prefer our comfort zone more than men or question ourselves.

Natasha Hatherall-Shawe

Was it your choice to have ONLY women working in your agency ? and why?

Originally, due to the nature of the clients that TishTash works with, we attracted and retained female team members due to their obvious enthusiasm and passion for the beauty sector. 10 years later, we are proudly an all female team of 50+ members, and this has become a conscious and deliberate decision. We want to champion and nurture women both as leaders and team members and provide a truly flexible environment for all but especially working mothers to enable women to have both a career and family life. We also cannot ignore the natural interest for our clients’ businesses and brands and we find when team members work on clients they have true interest and passion for the results show in the work.  Ultimately this works really well for our industry niche, and whilst we have had male employees before at TishTash, we are now committed to growing a ‘fearlessly female’ brilliant team.

How do you encourage other women to achieve success in their professional careers?

I have always been an advocate for other women and it is even more important in business and entrepreneurship as women essentially receive less opportunities and funding than men, so we owe it to the greater good to help each other. Aside from the facets of business, I strongly believe that we have to address some fundamental basics in the workplace to allow women to fulfill their potential, and we can no longer ignore lifestyle constraints that influence our productivity and wellbeing. I am a great advocate for championing womens reproductive rights and support, flexible working, the menopause, female specific health challenges and more – because without this in place, what are we?

What kinds of initiatives have you implemented to empower female employees?

Aside from a strong schedule of training opportunities and upskilling our employees with all having solid career development plans, TishTash Communications has also implemented a 4.5 day working week, 1.5 days of work from home each week as standard, working from home country where all team members can apply for up to 4 weeks a year working in their home country. We also have strong women’s health policies in place and paid menstrual, fertility and menopause leave which was a regional first in 2023.

How have you seen women in the workplace benefit from initiatives such as these?

It’s quite simple really  – with these initiatives, women in the workplace feel seen and heard, before they have even taken advantage of any of the initiatives that they need. The actual act of offering these policies brings a sense of relief and security  – even just by knowing they have options when the time is right for them, if ever.

The fact the majority of our team choose to progress their careers with us, with many having been at the agency 6-10 years speaks for itself. As does our client retention rate and continued growth and success.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations when it comes to running a successful business?

I continue to admire and be inspired by Donna Benton – from watching her found The Entertainer to exiting the business she built single handedly and onto her role as Chair of The Benton Group and the success and growth of her new portfolio. Donna’s story is the ultimate success, and Donna herself is a true figurehead for any woman in business in the UAE and beyond who also leads with grace and kindness.

Secondly, I am inspired by my own Mother – the resourcefulness and resilience she has shown throughout my life, both professionally and personally has created the foundations and cornerstones for my own outlook and work ethic.

Natasha Hatherall-Shawe

Founder and CEO of TishTash Communications

www.tishtash.com

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