Why Ellis Nichol is the right next move

by Andrew Flowers

Last week I left Microsoft after 10 years of working for the acquired Nokia phones business. This week I’m part of launching a new PR & Communications agency: Ellis Nichol. Here’s why I’m doing it…

It’s mid 2005. I’m 30 years old and working as a freelance copywriter in Sweden. My home is actually in Finland, but after five years there I have itchy feet, so now I’m working in Stockholm and flying back to Helsinki most weekends. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

And yet… there is something missing professionally. I’d worked as a copywriter for a B2B agency and I’d worked as a freelance writer, but I realize that I want to be part of something bigger. I want to be on the inside of a big company, seeing how things work (or don’t work), learning new stuff, and meeting influential people.

I see a recruitment ad for a “Financial Communications Manager” at Nokia HQ in Finland. I apply. I get a phone call from the hiring manager. She interviews me. Her colleague interviews me. HR sends me for some psych tests. The head of communications interviews me. I get the job. I move back to Helsinki and join Nokia in September 2005.

A decade later…

Fast forward 10 years, to mid 2015. Microsoft announces that it’s going to write down the entire value of the Nokia phones business it acquired the previous year. And make almost 8,000 people redundant, myself included.

What am I going to do now? What do I want to do? What can I do? What’s going to make me happy? These are the questions I ask myself all summer as I try to make sense of this new eventuality.

So I start by taking a look at what I have done, what I’m good at and what I can offer professionally. And then I look at what the communications & PR market in Helsinki needs, I have some conversations with a few ex colleagues and agency contacts, and I reach my conclusion: I’m going to write for a living.

From decision to opportunity

Shortly after I come to this decision I’m presented with the opportunity to form a company specializing in strategy and content development for executive communications, financial communications and B2B marketing. The timing is perfect. Thus… Ellis Nichol is born.

It’s clear that there is a need for such services in Helsinki. I know from my own “client side” experience that it can be tough to find good English writers in this city. And everyone in the industry here is telling me the same thing: “there is a big need for English B2B copywriters” and “there is no agency focusing on financial and executive communications.”

I believe Ellis Nichol will stand out by providing a few specific services that are backed up by solid experience. We’re not going to be selling projects and then scrambling to find junior people to fulfil them; my partner and I will be doing the work ourselves. And when it’s time to expand, we’ll do so in a very measured way. In a way that ensures our quality of service is never compromised.

The next 10 years

The next decade of my life needs to be about more than just working to gain experience or to bring home a paycheck. I want to build something. I want to change the status quo. And with Ellis Nichol I will be able to do that, guided by an ethos grounded in principles that I have helped define.

This feels like the right move, at the right time. And another ten years from now I want to be able to look back and say that we lived up to our ethos, and that we made a positive impact on the individuals and organizations we serve.

I look forward to meeting with prospective clients in coming weeks to share more about Ellis Nichol and to discuss what we can do for you.