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Alpamayo Coaching on Tour: Catching up with Becky Proctor and talking about her journey from science to the sea, Part 2

This is the second part of my conversation with Becky Proctor, when we met both inside and outside of Carnival House in Southampton. You can catch up with Part 1 here. In Part 2 we moved onto talking about what it was like to be Global Digital Content Manager with Cunard....

Sitting in the atrium of Carnival House it was immediately clear that Becky was very much at home in her role as Global Digital Content manager with Cunard, the oldest ocean going cruise brand in Carnival’s global portfolio.  From her current position of belonging within the Cunard culture she recalled the uncertainty around the time that she left Merck, uncertainty around finance and career direction.

Another significant factor was that this all happened at the same time as the birth of her second child. Perhaps it is no surprise that Becky prioritised spending time with family while also thinking about what might come next.  Her decision was to look for something that would draw on her skills in written communication and her first thought was to look for copy editing positions. 

A position came up at Cunard that had small copywriting element, prompting what she thought of as a speculative application.  She was delighted to be successful at the same time as being aware of ‘starting again’ in a career sense.  In very much ‘Becky-style’ there was no sense of this impacting on her sense of her own status, it was simply a matter of ‘just start again and get on with it’.  As it transpired it proved to be starting again in terms of ‘ways of working’ and Becky came into post in March 2020 to find herself in a new company, new skills, and new ways of working.  While there where challenges along with way Becky recognised in herself an ability to learn fast, manage a complex workload, and be adaptable and resilient in a hybrid working environment.  Over the coming years she moved from a Comms assistant to a Comms Exec position and then found herself seconded into the leadership role in that team.

Blue skies above Carnival House. Standing on 'the deck' at the top of the building with Becky


Her team are responsible for all website content coming from Cunard, working with the wider comms and brand teams, as well as analysing website traffic and visitor behaviour.  As it happened my visit came along after two big events for Becky at Cunard.  Firstly, the week before Cunard’s Queen Anne had her maiden voyage.  This was a huge deal for the company, meaning that it has a fleet of four cruise ships in operation at the same time for the first time since the 1990s.  You could see all the branding around Queen Anne in Carnival House and there was a sense of satisfaction over a job well done in bringing a 3000 berth luxury cruise liner into existence, and sending her on her maiden voyage.  The second event was a special one for Becky, having been confirmed in the permanent position of Global Digital Content Manager, originally having been a temporary secondment.  What a brilliant achievement!

At some point we moved to the top of Carnival House.  Here there is an outdoor sunbaked terrace accessed on metal walkways weaving between the various service paraphernalia you expect on the top of any large office building.  What I was not prepared for was going through secure door onto a terrace that overlooked Southampton Water.  There within touching distance were two ocean going liners.  A great way for the Carnival team to view their product.  Eight or so stories up and what felt like on a few metres away, all from a sun-baked terrace well above the hubbub of the street below.  It was a peaceful place to work although investment in suntan lotion is advised!

While up there I was prompted by Becky’s knowledge and understanding of her industry to think a bit more deeply about what it is like to run a cruise liner organisation.  We talked about how the industry had been the mechanism by which many people became acquainted with the threat of C19.  I definitely remember hearing stories of quarantine and medical horrors from offshore.  In short order those same stories became the norm on shore and on a global scale.  From the business perspective we talked about how each of Carnival’s brands are carefully created, nurtured and protected.  Necessarily the communication around brand has to function across national and cultural boundaries given that the ships are home to a global community in miniature on their voyages. 

Such is Becky’s interest in observing how the branding and communication around the Queen Anne was managed her future aspiration is to lead on the branding project behind a future Cunard Queen, whenever that might be.

We talked about how Cunard needs to understand global social, political and environmental change.  Environmental concerns mean they are having to re-evaluate the own performance in relation to energy consumption. In some instances, national policy around fossil fuel use and eco-preservation has required they adapt their itineraries.  The fact that tour itineraries are made available three years into the future means that risk mitigation involves a good deal of sensitivity to the indicators of change.  I was struck how Becky’s conversation had a level of awareness of international issues that made my own awareness of such issues feel distinctly parochial.

Our conversation also touched on what freedom is too.  I was saying that my own interest in going on a ocean going cruise ship was limited by the fact (meaning belief) that freedom was important to me.  I think a comment I have made with rather tedious regularity when ‘going on a cruise’ has come up as a topic of conversation.  That comment is along the lines of ‘I don’t like the idea of being confined to a ship, along with loads of other people’.  Becky’s comment was something like ‘that’s interesting because part of Cunard’s brand is about supporting the sense of freedom for our customers’.  Her comment prompted me to think that I was being rather binary in my view.  For those of us with the luxury to choose to place limits on our freedom there remains the opportunity, if suitably provided for, to feel free within those limits.  It’s a rather different situation for those who choose the limits of their freedom, most particularly those who have those limits imposed on them.

What a great conversation!  I am really enjoying Alpamayo Coaching on Tour and am so grateful to the likes of Becky for making the time to catch up.  The enrichment from these conversations comes from a sense of learning and on the establishment of a contemporary connection.  Spinning out from the conversations are all sorts of challenges to my assumptions which I really appreciate.  One such point of reflection stems from an almost parting shot from Becky on the back of me talking about marketing Alpamayo Coaching’s services.  I was saying that it was not something I particularly enjoyed and Becky said ‘Jezza, you don’t like to toot your horn do you!’  There was no judgement, just an observation with an implicit invitation that I might want to think differently.  Nice!

One the back of all this you might be interested in knowing more about Carnival as an organisation, what Cunard offers, and what it might be like to explore your own narratives in a coaching conversation with Jeremy at Alpamayo Coaching. Hit the relevant links to find out more.


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