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50 days at Cratus


By Sarah McKee

Wait, …what?

Does that say 50 days? Can it really only be 50 days since I stepped into the stylish Fora office in Borough to start my new job, full of all those first-day feelings and ready for whatever the future had to offer?

When I look around at the team that already feels like family, in a company that feels like home, it seems much longer. But then again, I look at that same team and their professionalism, experience, knowledge and expertise makes me feel like I’m brand new all over again.

Of course, I wasn’t a stranger to Cratus when I joined, having worked with the Communities team in my previous role. But I was a client then and (to use a theatre metaphor of which I hope our CEO would approve) that was ‘front of house’. Now I’m ‘backstage’ and I’ve got to tell you – it’s even better…

Backstage is where all the magic is created. Backstage is where the real work happens.

And backstage is where I have seen just how much time and effort Cratus invests in really understanding our different landscapes and getting to know what is important to people – from private individuals to local councillors and organisations. For example, in my first week I attended a really impressive session where the Planning team briefed a client on the (then) recent elections. I was simply floored by the in-depth knowledge that our team displayed. Yes, the presentation was slick. Yes, the team knew their stuff. But it wasn’t just well researched – their knowledge came from living and breathing in this world and having a deep understanding of all the history, nuances and implications of what was happening.

There’s also a real investment in networking at every level. I can guarantee you that someone at Cratus will know the answer to any question in the field of public affairs, planning, communities or climate change or, crucially, will know someone that does. In many cases, they’ll be able to put you in touch with the person that wrote the policy on it! And not one of my 50 days has gone by without a question being asked of the wider team ‘Does anyone know someone who…’ and every one of those questions has yielded better results than the asker could have hoped for.

But this doesn’t happen by accident. There’s a programme of targeted activity, from recruiting the right people, attending the right events and creating the right opportunities for people to come together – from the Chamberlain Lecture to the LGBT disco at the Local Government Association Conference. All this backstage activity is meaningful and purposeful and makes sure that Cratus is working right at the heart of local politics and in the middle of local communities.

So… How have my first 50 days been? Well, if we’re going to continue the metaphor, so far, the show is even better than the playbill. It says on our website that what sets Cratus apart is our people, and this isn’t just the usual corporate bragging. In the last 50 days I’ve met some of the most talented, passionate and interesting people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. I’m looking forward to many more than 50 more…

I’ve also:

  • Fallen a little bit in love with the wonderful Georgia Gould at this year’s utterly inspiring Chamberlain Lecture for Cratus
  • Met some fantastically committed leaders and councillors from local government at the LGA conference in Harrogate, where conversations ranged from the sublime (how do we create a more equal and just society at a local level?) to the ridiculous (was Rik Mayall or Bernard Cribbins better on ‘Jackanory’?)
  • Discovered the rooftop terrace of the London office – I have as many meetings there as I can!
  • Helped deliver a potentially game-changing planning consultation for my first Cratus client –including a public consultation session on the hottest day in Britain since records began
  • Driven a Transit van through central London (don’t ask)
  • Danced to Wham! at the Cratus LGBT disco
  • Seen views of Bristol from the 24th floor of an exciting new development

Sarah Mckee is the Director, South West & Major Projects, if you would like to find out more about our Cratus projects or get in touch with Sarah, drop her a line


50 days at Cratus