In conversation… Caroline Cairns

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Our next conversation in the series features Caroline Cairns, the Client Services Director at marketing agency, Editions Financial.

What are the biggest challenges facing the agency sector right now? And what is specific to your industry, financial services?

I don’t think any sector has escaped the wake of the pandemic’s impact on talent acquisition and retention. We’ve noticed client teams being increasingly stretched and that can have a knock-on impact on our projects. Longer-term planning is tricky, so agencies need to be far more agile and swift to respond to demand.

ESG remains a huge focus for the FS sector, so accurate reporting and transparency of information are crucial. Similarly, regulation is an essential area for us to be aware of, particularly in newer areas such as digital assets. Keeping up to date with legislation and compliance is key.

Where are the big/new opportunities?

Much like the major challenges, the big new opportunities also stem from this changing landscape. Innovation is a huge focus for both clients and agencies so it’s an exciting time to see new platforms, new products and new ways of interacting coming to the fore. We’ll also see more from disruptor FS brands which will push further change and innovation which is always exciting.

Customer expectations are also changing. What people expect from a brand is evolving. People have higher expectations not just in terms of UX, but also in terms of a brand’s authenticity and purpose. That opens up opportunities in terms of content to tell a deeper story around a brand for us.

Perhaps the recruitment challenges will also bring about positive change since agencies and clients will have to look more widely for their next hires. We may see new recruits coming from a range of sectors, and with this brings refreshing new ideas and new approaches.

How (if at all) has remote working impacted creativity and creative collaborations?

As an agency with global clients and colleagues, we were pretty lucky in that distance working and collaboration wasn’t brand new to us during the pandemic. We just had to adapt to everyone now being remote. However, I felt it really made communication between the creative team and the strategic and account handling teams stronger. We focussed on overcoming physical distances by putting an emphasis on frequent, open and clear communication amongst one another…and I’m sure the creative teams don’t miss us hovering around their desks anymore!

I think we do all miss the in-person presentation of creative work. You can sometimes feel like you’re in a little vortex on a video call without having the usual body language cues we’re all used to in real life meetings. So, although remote presenting is really efficient – especially when working with clients who have teams across the country and beyond, I think we’ll still push to get in the room again as often as possible.

Same question, but for client relationships and building rapport/trust?

Strangely, for some of our accounts, switching to video calls during the pandemic actually meant increased client contact and so has strengthened our relationships. 

Many of our clients are based around the globe and so in-person meetings were never a weekly occurrence, but with video calls, we receive more face-to-face time which we’ve continued even now that travel has opened up again.

During the pandemic, we won some new accounts and didn’t meet the clients in person – something unheard of a few years ago. But it’s a great sign when you almost don’t realise you’ve never met in real life. I recently had an in-person meeting with a client and we both laughed when we met in the foyer because we both expected the other to be taller after a year of just seeing each other sitting on video calls! Zoom is a great equaliser for short people like me!

What keeps you motivated/excited?

I think I’ll always be in awe of those moments when you see a genius concept perfectly executed as an advertising campaign. And as someone on the inside, I can also fully appreciate the countless hours of behind-the-scenes work (and negotiations!) to get to that final point. I get a real buzz from seeing smart work reaching people and genuinely making them react. The process to get there is very rewarding, working with bright people and brainstorming ideas is a favourite point of each day for me.

Seeing younger professionals develop and grow in confidence in the industry is also a great feeling. I did some mentoring work with graduates in my last role and surprised myself with how much I got out of working with them as they set out in their careers.

What is your crowning/proudest career moment ever?

For me, I think it’s more like a thousand little moments that all contribute to my career achievements to date. From things like client wins, innumerable funny moments with colleagues, brainstorms where the big idea is nailed out of the blue, nurturing teams and seeing them thrive – it’s all these parts which make me feel really privileged to be working in a career I love.

Talk to Denholm

If you’d like to speak to us about your journey to leadership, growing your team, or even switching careers, please get in touch on 03303 359 818 today. Thank you. 

ZOE LUMSDEN

Recruitment AdministratoR

Zoe joined Denholm in 2022 as Recruitment Administrator, after working in administration roles for nearly a decade. Most recently within the recruitment industry, she joins us with experience of supporting consultants, clients and candidates at all levels. Zoe has a passion for helping people and applies her positive attitude and approachable manner to support our team and deliver the best possible service to our clients and candidates at all times.

Our Purpose

Our aim is to combat illicit online trade by identifying and removing counterfeits for sale. Counterfeits not only damage brands, their reputations, and revenues, but can cause significant harm to the end customer – whether as a fake toy or a fake medicine – and the consequences can be life threatening.

Counterfeiting is a significant economic and social issue.

The OECD reports that counterfeit and fake goods make up more than 3.3% of the world’s global trade. Those involved in the trade of counterfeits have been linked to people trafficking, prostitution, and drug dealing.

As such, reducing illicit trade is about much more than brand protection but also about human rights, safety, and social equity.

And this is what we do, every day.

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Communication Lead

We’re a passionate and professional team who thrive in issue-rich environment and we’re looking to add a Communication Lead to our fast-growing team. You’ll be a trusted advisor to clients across several sectors in all aspects of communication, external affairs, marketing and issues management. Coming from an agency or consultancy environment, at Account Director level or above, you’ll report directly to the Managing Director and be responsible for a small and busy multi-disciplinary team. You’ll have first-class project management skills, be solutions-driven and excellent commercial acumen too. Alongside the senior team, you’ll work to drive the strategic growth of Aspect.

Your core duties will include:

  • Working with the MD to develop and deliver growth strategies 
  • Attracting and retaining profitable clients across a range of sectors 
  • Leading the creation and execution of strategic communication programmes
  • Inspiring, leading and developing multi-disciplinary teams
  • Developing strong relationships with clients, colleagues and associates
  • Producing high quality pitches and proposals to secure new business 
  • Curating, nurturing and managing a team of talented associates.

You’ll be a skilled communicator, interested and knowledgeable about the key issues shaping the external environment. In addition, to be considered for this role, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • 7+ years of senior leadership experience within an agency or consultancy
  • Experience in Energy, Renewables, Financial Services or Life Sciences would be very desirable
  • Outstanding writing skills and the ability to engage and excite an audience
  • An impressive track record of client attraction, retention and growth 
  • The ability to thrive fast-paced environment managing multiple projects simultaneously
  • Strong influencing and leadership skills to motivate and inspire those around you
  • Excellent planning, evaluation and project management skills
  • To develop new processes, systems and ways of working to drive performance

Communication Advisors

We’re a passionate and professional team who thrive in issue-rich environment and we’re looking for Senior Communication Advisors, Communications Advisors and Communications Executives to join their fast-growing team. 

You’ll have previous agency experience at Senior Account Manager or Account Manager level and be passionate about delivering excellent results for clients. You might be a specialist in PR and media relations who produces compelling editorial content across a range of topics and sectors or you might be a public affairs expert who understands the policy landscape and helps clients build influential relationships. Whatever your specialism, you’ll be an excellent writer, full of creative ideas, with proven client management experience and the ability to provide expert advice our clients.

Your key duties will include:

  • Supporting the key account lead with day-to-day client liaison, providing strategic counsel on day-to-day account matters when required
  • Active involvement in planning and delivering global PR, marketing and digital campaigns
  • Managing content programmes, including mapping out content themes, spotting industry trends and story angles, writing copy when required which may include opinion articles, web and social
  • Building strong media relationships, creating pitches based on your story ideas and delivering content in-to suit the client’s target media and securing opportunities
  • Planning and running client’s social media programmes, and management of their channels
  • Continuously identifying opportunities to grow brand awareness and profile our client’s businesses within their target sector through events, webinars, thought leadership
  • Producing comprehensive and timely reports on client activity 
  • Supporting in the development of client proposals to help grow or win parts of the business


In addition, to be considered for this role, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • Proven background in account handling and direct client liaison – 4 years’ minimum
  • Experience in an agency setting focusing on B2B communication or PR
  • Strong communications skills, verbal and written
  • A background in delivering creative, digitally led B2B communications such as LinkedIn campaigns
  • An innate understanding of earned media, with the ability to create stories and generate coverage across traditional media, digital and social
  • Experience working on content management programmes, with an awareness of the changing way business audiences consume information and an appreciation of search, paid and wider customer marketing activity, and how it all fits together
  • A history of working with clients in a variety of sectors is welcomed but experience in the tech and energy industries is advantageous.

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Our People

Our people are our most important asset, and their mental well-being and happiness are core to our success. We love our diverse workforce, actively embrace flexible working (even pre-pandemic!) and encourage a healthy work-life balance. We have been recognised as one of the most diverse SME workplaces in the UK and are holders of the Scottish Business Pledge which exists to promote a fairer Scotland. We have also just been included in the 2021 Culture Leaders Top 25 – an accolade of which we are very proud!

We are a fully inclusive and nurturing employer and, despite being in tech, the majority of our team are women, leading to accolades in the Computing Magazine Women in IT Awards and the Amazon Growing Business Awards. We currently represent 15 nationalities and speak 20 languages. Age is no barrier, and we recruit for attitude, providing and encouraging appropriate learning and training for each and every role.

We are also proud members of IP Inclusive, a network of professionals working to make the intellectual property industry more diverse.

DREW GILLIES

SENIOR CONSULTANT - AGENCY

Drew arrived at Denholm as an award-winning creative, having headed content strategy teams for marketing/advertising agencies in the UK/USA before a successful career in HR, people and culture. He has years of marketing experience and building teams on both sides of the Atlantic, priding himself on going the extra mile for clients and candidates alike. Drew always works with passion as our specialist in account management, planning and strategy, digital marketing, full-spectrum creative and traffic/studio management.

Our Environment

We deliver purpose-driven work from an extremely welcoming environment near the City Centre. We actively encourage the responsible use of resources, from using public transport to reuse, recycling, and, of course, a minimal impact office environment. We have benefited from the advice of the Energy Saving Trust and Resource Efficient Scotland. Our waste contractor also provides us with a monthly report on volumes and types of material and the carbon emissions avoided through recycling.

Over 80% of our employees can walk or cycle to The Lair and, pre-pandemic, 10% were using public transport as their normal daily commuting mode. Without doubt, online meetings will replace considerable miles, going forward, saving resources, time and energy. Where possible, when possible, the train remains our preferred option. 

Our Community

As well as working in close collaboration with our clients, and the online marketplaces, we are active members of groups that have been established to combat illicit trade. These include the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group, the European Intellectual Property Office, The Scottish Business Resilience Centre, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, and the China Britain Business Council. Members of our senior management sit on the boards of ACID (Anti-Copying in Design), the Scottish Ministerial Trade Board, and the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s Observatory Panel for SMEs, amongst others.

Each team member nominates good causes or charities that are supported on both an individual and corporate basis. Wherever possible, we support the employee’s involvement whether through time or fundraising events.

ANGELA MCCANN

DIRECTOR OF GROWTH

Having worked in the recruitment industry since 2000, Angela brings a wealth of experience as a Recruitment Professional and a proven track record of delivering a high-quality search and selection service to both public and private companies in the UK and internationally. Angela believes in a partnership approach to recruitment, ensuring a detailed understanding of employer/jobseeker requirements and delivering a bespoke service underpinned by professionalism, pragmatism and strong market knowledge.

JAMES BLYTH

HEAD OF MANUFACTURING & ENGINEERING

James has a decade of experience within the FMCG sector where he has partnered with a wide range of businesses placing key appointments at all levels including Director/ Board level. Driving growth across our Manufacturing & Engineering function, James specialises in Production, Operations, Engineering, Quality, HSE, Technical, NPD and Supply Chain. With his passion and expertise in these areas, James supports candidates and clients by working closely to understand their needs and wants providing exceptional service.

ANDY MACEWAN

HEAD OF TECHNOLOGY, CHANGE & TRANSFORMATION

Andy has been recruiting in Technology, Change & Transformation since 2001. Delivering tailored resource solutions as trusted advisor to clients ranging from start-ups through to global blue-chip organisations across contract, permanent, fixed term, and managed service/statement of work solutions. He has experience providing candidates for Helpdesk through to CIO and takes great pride in providing excellent customer service and ensuring each candidate journey is a positive one. An expert in his market he can provide guidance across current market trends.

SCOTT CAITHNESS

CLIENT RELATIONSHIP PARTNER

Scott started his career working for one of the leading Advertising & Comms agencies in Edinburgh where he spent 7 years before moving in to recruitment in 2011. As such, he is well-networked in the Marketing & Comms space across Scotland. With a friendly and consultative approach, Scott is genuinely passionate about providing a positive journey to both candidates and clients alike and believes communication plays a big part in this.  A “thinking-outside-the-box recruiter”, he is known for helping candidates portray the best version of themselves and helping clients find talent for those hard to fill roles.

DAVID RANDALL

SENIOR CONSULTANT - MARKETING & SALES

David started recruitment at the age of 23 and while it isn’t for everyone, it was for David. What he really enjoys is looking beyond the CV and really getting to know the people sitting across the table, learning all about them and building relationships with new people. And that hasn’t changed to this day. David loves solving the puzzle of balancing the needs and wants clients and candidates to reach a point where everyone is happy. Based in Glasgow, he covers the B2B market for sales and marketing roles across Scotland.

LIZ PARSONS

SENIOR CONSULTANT - MARKETING

Liz has over 14 years’ experience in recruitment working across primarily the high-tech, pharmaceutical and FMCG sectors. She joined Denholm on December 1st 2021 following a relocation from Ireland to focus on Marketing recruitment. Liz’s experience ranges from high volume recruitment to executive search and she prides herself in her ability to fully understand a brief and her accurate matching skills. Frequently praised as being a clear communicator with a strong customer service ethic, Liz is well suited to the culture here at Denholm, where the client and the candidates’ needs are paramount.

EUAN ARCHIBALD

SENIOR CONSULTANT - Technology, Change & Transformation

Euan has been working in the world of recruitment since 2012, working to deliver bespoke services to both clients and candidates. Prioritising ‘future-fit’ candidates for clients, he works as an extension of his client’s business ensuring great representation in the market. He consults with each client to ensure excellent candidate journeys. Euan works focuses primarily on business analysis, project management and technical support opportunities.

CALLUM BEVERIDGE

SENIOR CONSULTANT - TECHNOLOGY, CHANGE & TRANSFORMATION

Callum has been working in recruitment since 2018 where he has solely focussed on the Technology, Change and Transformation market across the UK and ROI. He works closely with his clients and candidates to build long-lasting relationships across several industries, including Technology, Financial Services, Professional Services, Healthcare, Education, Public Sector and more. He specialises in engineering roles across Software, Infrastructure, Systems, DevOps and Cloud, along with Software Testing.

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