New to the Canberra communications consulting scene, Reece Cummings started Zen Creative Solutions during this year’s pandemic. He is no stranger to running a business having run a successful martial arts studio which “pivoted” to online training during this year’s lockdown. These dual passions are what led Reece to take the leap into solo consulting, where he is focused on working with small businesses and educational institutions to build their brands.
Where are you working?
I am the Principal Consultant at Zen Creative Solutions. I originally started my own consulting ‘business’, acting in a freelance/ad-hoc capacity in 2016, but it was only in September (2020) this year that I decided to scale it to full-time.
What did you do before this role?
Before moving into consulting full-time, I spent more than ten years’ in the communications industry working across a variety of different areas, including education, private enterprise, and in agency. My last role included working for Canberra Grammar School for six years as their Strategic Communications Manager.
I also operate a martial arts studio, teaching around 15 hours a week, plus operational management.
It was these dual passions – a profession in communications and a vocation in coaching – that ultimately led me to where I am currently.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m not sure there’s a normal day! On certain days, I am delivering coaching in business, leadership and management, and on other days I am providing marketing communications services to clients. In the evening, I am most often engaged in the teaching or learning of martial arts.
Can you tell us about one of your career highlights?
A particular highlight of my career has been working on the re-brand of Canberra Grammar School in 2015.
As the Strategic Communications Manager, I was responsible for leading the communications function of the brand revitalisation project, which consisted of navigating the school community through a major change: single-sex to co-education.
This project involved a complete re-brand and the launch of a new website, marketing and communications strategy, messaging, social platforms, uniforms, signage, and everything in between.
The highlight was not just the project itself, though. The people I worked with were extraordinarily passionate about their work—building the future of young people—and the executive leaders of the project appreciated the value of communications and community.
Of course, a significant highlight has also occurred in 2020 as I established Zen Creative Solutions as my full-time gig.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Making the decision to step out of a secure full-time communications management role and into a self-employed consultant role.
I took the approach I recommend doing when making a major decision: I consulted! In this case, it was with my family, friends, and industry colleagues who helped me take a considered approach to my decision.
What changes do you think will occur in communications over the next decade?
Over the past decade, we have seen terms such as ‘integrated marketing and communications’ become more well-used.
With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing forward the use of digital technologies to influence how we’re interacting with each other, both professionally and socially, I think we’ll see communications integrated more cohesively into other business functions.
Hopefully, we might also see an increase in appreciation for the role of communications as an important business function.
Who inspires you? Why?
Anyone who takes the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and pursue their passion.
What is your favourite book or podcast?
I find this question quite difficult! I don’t have a single favourite book (or band!). I enjoy something that I can get lost in; something that has a good story.
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
I am fortunate to have been significantly influenced across both my communications profession and sporting vocation by a range of people, all who’ve contributed to who I am today. Some have been managers, mentors, coaches, but I have been equally aspired by many of my direct teammates.
If you could share one tip with other communications professionals, what would it be?
To develop your skills to more broadly include business strategy and to always expand your scope to consider more than you might be expected to understand.
A bit more about Reece…
Reece is a communications professional with over 10 years’ experience, specialising in designing creative marketing communications and business solutions across the SME, fitness and martial arts, and schools and education industries.
Reece is the Principal Consultant for Zen Creative Solutions which provides consulting services that combine marketing communications expertise with business strategy to design creative solutions. He is also a qualified VET Trainer and Assessor.
Reece has established and manages a successful martial arts studio of more than 200 students. He is am also an avid karate practitioner and instructor.
Reece is a member of PRIA, and a Fellow and Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) of the AMI.
Get to know Reece and Zen Creative a little more on LinkedIn.