This year we celebrate Oracle’s 10th Anniversary. Here are some of the questions staff wanted to ask CEO and founder Caroline Coskry
Where did you draw inspiration to start and build this incredible business?
I like to get things done, it’s as simple as that really. At some of the previous agencies I worked at, it would take so long for a board decision to be made, by the time an idea had been sanctioned, a competitor had already done it, so frustrating. So, I guess I was inspired to do my own thing purely out of impatience, unsurprising for anyone who knows me well. As soon as we have an idea at Oracle, it is pretty much in full swing by the end of the week.
What were your visions in 2011 and how have you met them or even surpassed those visions?
I wanted to create a business with ‘the best of the best’, staff and clients. By the time I set up Oracle I had spent 13 years working in property PR & Marketing and met some incredible people. My aim was to employ the ones who really stood out. And I was lucky that most I approached said yes.
We also have an excellent portfolio of clients, most of which we have worked with for a very long time. Some of the client relationships we have now are from contacts I made twenty years ago which is so lovely… although we don’t talk about it too much as it makes us feel old.
What other CEOs do you look up to and who has inspired you to have the work ethic that you do?
There have been many CEOs in the property industry who have inspired me over the years, too many to name. But inspiration comes in so many forms and at varying levels. By this I mean I have often been inspired by the kind PA who is quite magically holding everything together or the cab driver telling me their life story on the way to a meeting. Inspiration comes from everyone you meet on the way, not just the CEOs you meet at the top.
My work ethic comes from my family. My Grandma was a superwoman, she didn’t sit still, she had four children, left home at 18 to train as a nurse and was a district nurse for many years before owning and running a nursing home. Her motto really was ‘always keep going no matter what, get up and get on with it’. Grandad was a scientist for Shell, he was incredibly wise and always shared his knowledge. He taught me many things but he was very clear on the most important; don’t ever let standards drop, keep calm and don’t fuss, that last bit took me a while to conquer but I think I’m there now.
My sister Liz inspires me, she moved to Holland when she was in her early 20s, married a wonderful Dutchman, had two children, learned a new language and then set up her own business teaching English to staff at big corporates over there like Tata Steel, as well as young students.
And then, most importantly my mum. Probably the strongest lady anyone will ever meet, who really does just get up and get on with it no matter what. She has instilled in me the importance of doing things right and being strong and resilient. Thanks mum!
What is the best piece of leadership advice you have received / or could give others?
Listen. Listen to everything and everyone. It is so very important, and I don’t think I learned this skill really until about five years ago. Listen to your staff, your clients, the news, your peers, your family, the shopkeeper, the hairdresser, the waitress. Listening inspires, fixes things and gives you solutions. Although of course it often gives problems too!
What is the favourite part about your job? What excites you most?
Meeting people and developing relationships is a key part of my role and I love it. I also like connecting people who I think might work well together. But most of all seeing some of the younger employees over the years flourish. Many remain with us and have really grown in their roles which is so great to see. Of course, some have moved on who I’m still in touch with and it’s such a delight to see they are doing so well. That sounds cheesy but it honestly makes me happy to see people shine.
What has been the biggest change in the industry in the last 10 years?
The property industry used to evolve every 5 years and that was enough for people to cope with. But then we had Brexit and Covid and that has changed so much. Particularly how people interact with one another and how people consume news. The really big change has been the power of social media, it’s quite incredible to see now how people are influenced. Just looking at some of our influencer campaigns, the statistics are incredible in terms of reach and engagement.
Personally, I think the virtual way of doing things is both boring and frightening. Boring not to be able to see and interact with people and frightening that this is now a huge part of our lives which we need to embrace. Onwards and upwards, we change with the times regardless of how I feel about it. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more people in person as the value of that is priceless.
Do you have a favourite client?
Never have a favourite…. it’s like asking me if I have a favourite of my twin three year old girls… Depends on the day you ask me!
What’s been most surprising about the journey so far?
That we are still here. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when I started the business, I just put my head down, kept going and here we are. A recession, Brexit and Covid later… it is very much a surprise.
If you could go back in time, what one piece of advice you would give yourself 10 years ago?
Remember to breathe and trust your staff. It took me a while to do both, delegating was incredibly difficult at first but it’s all part of the journey and the learning process. PS – I’m the CEO, I can have two pieces of advice…