Clients might know Melinda as the warm, mile-a-minute, fast-talking, quick-thinking Account Director who’s been the face of many accounts for over four years. And while this is one side of Melinda (she does oversee the agency’s communications practice, and most of our energy, government, commercial and education accounts), internally she’s known for much more.
Melinda is the unofficial (and undisputed) head of agency HR and staff well being. She’s endlessly empathetic, intuitive and inquisitive – all qualities that make her excellent at her job – but also excellent when staff need someone to talk to. She’s also our ambassador for all things Italian, which includes but is not limited to wonderful food, home grown herbs and fruit, useful travel advice and really terrible Italian pop music. So without further ado, please meet our Melinda!
Q: Sum yourself up in three words.
A: My friends have decided my epitaph will read: She spoke. And in Italian.
But that’s 5.
So how about: inquisitive, linguistic, and idealistic.
Q: What gets you out of bed on a Sunday morning?
A: A pretty strong shove. And coffee. Then trying to turn a barren backyard into a fruitful, green oasis. Listening to a podcast.
Q: What is unique about Ellis Jones?
A: For me, what sets Ellis Jones apart is that all of us are genuinely interested in what makes the world work the way it does – and that translates into a deep knowledge of the sectors we work in as well. It’s not something I commonly found in agencies I worked with in my previous life as a client, so I would spend a lot of time trying to impart that information. For me, it’s also far more satisfying to have that broader connection to my work – being able to understand its purpose and potential impact within a broader context. And it means I often have the chance to meet and work with people equally invested in energy, education and government – and to work on big challenges in ways designed to make a positive and lasting impact.
Q: After a number of years working in energy and environment, you remain inspired and determined. What drives you?
A: I’ve been working in energy since the Kevin07 commitment to tackle the biggest moral challenge of our time. Through all the acronyms (VRET, ETS, RET), through the powerful Victorian black balloons campaign. I was then in (state) government, so it meant considering the needs for and consequences of change from multiple angles – jobs, costs on low-income households, technological constraints, the public expectations around an essential service, the easiest changes, the changes that could make the biggest inroads on abating carbon, the best outcomes for the planet. And all this so heavily connected with a sector comprised of ex-government owned generation and retail companies, along with regulated monopoly transmission and distribution businesses. And the unique pressures of those markets and business models. Through it all, it’s been clear that change is inevitable. Complicated and fraught, but it’s going to happen. It’s a fascinating and deeply important transition to play a part in. And I profoundly believe that in the end, it’s through human ingenuity that we will find the answers we need.
Q: Tell us one of your most treasured travel stories.
A: Anyone who has spoken to me for more than 5 minutes will probably have been subjected to a story about when I lived in Italy for a year, with my best friend, in an apartment the size of a shoe box with green shutters on the windows and stone walls a meter thick built in the renaissance. We shopped at the Mercato Centrale, and were on a first name basis with our deli owner (Marco) who always gave us the best buffalo mozzarella. We studied psycholinguistics and the contemporary history of the world from the French revolution until today, in Italian, at the University of Florence, and got perfect scores (partially because our lecturers were so surprised that anyone outside of Italy would bother learning to speak Italian). We skipped across to Rome, Venice, Sicily, Abruzzo, Greece, the Tuscan coast line, and the Cinque Terre for little breaks. I had my May birthday on a balmy summer night, at an outdoor bar, the only birthday I’ve ever had that didn’t require a winter coat. I went to my cousin’s 30th birthday in the Tuscan hills and my other cousin’s wedding in an old castle, surrounded by olive groves. I was 21. It was wonderful.
Q: How would you describe your personal style?
A: Donna classica, in full-colour.
Q: What’s an important truth you hold that few people would agree with?
A: I’m not that controversial. Perhaps, do unto others and assume that people are doing the best they can with what they have at that time.
Q: If you ran a “Melinda’s Wisdom” campaign, what would the Flinders Station billboard tagline say to the world?
A. Be kind. It’s not that hard.