MWA Introduces: Rachel Atkins
As a start to the new year, we wanted to take some time and highlight some of the team that make up MWA.
Today, we spoke with Rachel Atkins, who is a Consultant with MWA. Rachel joined MWA back in 2021. She plays a varied role across the company as well as handling varied assignments across Europe.
Tell us about your journey to joining MWA
My journey to MWA was more than just a career decision, it was a major life shift and one I am extremely grateful of.
Nearly a decade ago, I graduated from Newcastle University having studied Psychology – I have always had a passion for both science and working with people. I took up a position working with special educational needs children as a learning assistant. This led me into a career where I trained to become a primary school teacher. I loved working in education, supporting a diverse range of needs within a highly rewarding role. In 2021, I made the difficult decision to leave education. Personally, the demands of the role and particular experiences had taken a significant toll on my mental health. I found it very difficult to admit this, but prioritising my ongoing health is the best choice I have made.
With this decision, I felt a great sense of relief. However, I had no idea where my career should go next. I had many passions and interests. The pandemic certainly limited some, and my self-confidence dealt with others. So, I came across a role working within recruitment in my local town within a very interesting sector, intellectual property. I quickly became interested in working within a people-focused industry that had a strong link to science. Once I learned more about the culture at MWA, I was sold. I was very open with MWA’s Director, Kieron Wright, during our interviews. I knew that in a small company hiring the right person is key and I wanted to be honest about my journey over the last few years, and the challenges I had overcome. I also knew that I had a lot to offer this role – predominantly, determination and passion. Changing careers is not easy and I needed somebody to take a chance on me. Kieron did just that, and I am so pleased he did!
Fast forward two and a half years later and I thoroughly enjoy being part of MWA. I like to contribute to the company and play a part in the company’s development and growth. I have learnt a lot from all my colleagues, but in particular I have gained a lot of knowledge from Kieron. He has provided challenges for me to seize, and I have been able to develop rapidly over these last few years. Having a supportive manager is certainly not to be underestimated!
Tell us a little about your role at MWA within the IP sector.
My role is quite diverse, and I really enjoy this! It is one of the benefits that come with being part of a small, dedicated team. As a Consultant at MWA, I lead recruitment campaigns for our clients across a diverse range of intellectual property roles. I also work directly with candidates on career coaching for intellectual property careers and provide informal career conversations and support. At MWA, we are a small, boutique firm and I enjoy working on broader projects and responsibilities. I love to support research for my colleagues or write blog articles on trends and topics relating to careers in the IP industry. I also manage a lot of our company marketing and have a passion for graphic design, creating many of our company materials.
What do you enjoy about the work you do?
There are genuinely many aspects about my role that I love. I enjoy working with professionals across a unique and interesting industry. At MWA, we are not a typical recruitment company. We partner with our clients, learn all we can about their needs, counsel departments using our expertise and find great people within IP. This is intellectually stimulating; it can be challenging but it is rewarding to foster new relationships and support careers.
I also enjoy working closely with candidates on their careers and providing career coaching support – this is something I really look forward to developing this year. I genuinely enjoy supporting people to find a new role that could enhance their careers and provide something new or different.
Importantly, I love being part of MWA. The team here consists of genuinely caring, thoughtful and hard-working individuals. Coming to work every day is a pleasure, and I am grateful to have such kind and supportive colleagues!
Tell us one thing that people may not know about you.
In 2023, I started a local book club – albeit accidentally! I have always been an avid reader and I now enjoy meeting with such diverse people in my local community who share this passion. A glass of wine to accompany this is also vital, of course!
What is important to you in a career/job?
Culture and workplace. These have such a significant impact on workplace happiness, productivity, growth and more. I am a value-driven person and I have learnt that I thrive when a working culture aligns with my personal values.
What is your top career advice to professionals in the intellectual property field?
Do not underestimate the soft skills. Although IP is a highly specialised technical field, it can often be overlooked how important the softer skills are – such as, teamwork, communication, emotional intelligence and more. These are vital skills.
Technical ability will certainly ensure success in many ways, but employers also want to have confidence in other areas. IP is not an isolated sector – it is interwoven with other departments and teams. Having an ability to work well with others, understand needs, provide educational insights, and manage challenges requires many skills other than a legal and scientific knowledge. Soft skills underpin these other areas and ensure you are equipped to tackle challenges and adapt to the needs of a role. Continuously developing these skills and highlighting these to future employers is important.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
This year, I am really looking forward to expanding MWA’s offering for career coaching that is specific to IP careers. I look forward to gaining accreditation which will build on my Psychology studies and allow me to work alongside more professionals on their careers and growth.
Alongside working with a great team, I also look forward to continuing to work with many interesting clients and expanding the recruitment we support.
Kieron Wright, MWA’s Director, shares his thoughts on Rachel’s contributions at MWA:
‘Rachel has made a huge impact at MWA. Not having a recruitment background has not held her back, and in many respects is the reason for her success. Rachel is someone who truly cares about the values of the business and has the company’s best interests at heart. She has a great way with candidates and clients and is able to provide a balanced view to help both parties. A particular strength of Rachel is her high level of emotional intelligence – she is able to quickly get to the core of an issue and help candidates to navigate the intricacies of a career move. Rachel is an invaluable member of the team and we are lucky to have her.’