With two weeks under my belt as the Communications & Marketing Team Lead at Direct Relief International I’ve had the opportunity to have meetings with almost all of the Direct Relief team and talk about their role, my role and how I might be able to help. I am constantly hearing how excellent the previous GSK PULSE volunteers have been and everyone is able to point to some project implemented by PULSE volunteers that Direct Relief is still using today. Direct Relief has had multiple PULSE volunteers every year since the program was started in 2009 but this year I am the only one (no wonder I’m feeling lonely and a bit homesick). And while it is great to hear that us PULSErs are delivering sustainable change, it puts tremendous pressure on me to live up to the reputation that has been established.
In addition to the PULSE program, GSK has a great reputation with Direct Relief because we have partnered with them to give lots of product donations (we even appear on their homepage – how AWESOME is that!!!). They have come to rely on us to help provide support during times of disaster. It makes me feel so proud to be a part of GSK when I hear Direct Relief staff speak of the partnership they have with GSK. Sort of like the first few times I saw the Proud video. Corny, I know, but it really brings home how awesome a company we are. By the way – awesome is a popular word here in California, along with hella (as in hell of a) and gnarly.
But reputation is a two sided coin. My dad always told me that my reputation was the easiest thing to lose and the hardest thing to get back. He was trying to make sure I didn’t get into too much trouble growing up but last week proved to me how on the mark he was. GSK’s recent announcement wasn’t our finest hour and I had to go to work at my new job and answer my new colleague’s questions. Did I see the news? What was the true story? How could we (GSK) do such things?
That “proud” feeling definitely started to erode and embarrassment began to take hold. I had to dig deep and think about the good that we are doing and talk to my colleagues about the steps we have taken to move forward. I took that opportunity to discuss how we are “living our values”, being transparent and most importantly putting patients first.
It really became so clear to me how I am an ambassador for GSK. I could be the only personal interaction that someone has with GSK. And if I want them to know my company the way I do, know GSK beyond the information in the media, I have to be my best and live our values. So there goes all the pressure creeping back in and landing on my shoulders – no wonder I can’t sleep even though I am utterly exhausted.
Please pardon the long post, but last week wasn’t an easy week for me and I thought I’d share my feelings.