Inspirational Woman: Shayoni Lynn | CEO & Founder, Lynn

Shayoni Lynn

Shayoni Lynn FCIPR FPRCA CMPRCA is CEO and Founder at multi-award-winning behavioural science consultancy, Lynn

Shayoni is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Chair of PRCA Cymru.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m originally from India, and I moved to the UK to complete my studies in journalism. I practiced journalism both in India and the UK before making the move to communications. I headed up communications for Cardiff University’s alumni relations and fundraising department. This is where I discovered my passion for data, analytics, and applying behavioural science to communications to enable positive change.

From this, I founded Lynn in 2019. We’re a behavioural science communications consultancy that works to improve and save lives. We work across health, planet, and organisational change, and we are home to industry-leading services: The BS (behavioural science) Unit, and The Misinformation Cell.

In my role as CEO & Founder at Lynn, I am accountable for how our business approaches the future; I set the tone for our growth, culture, and innovation. I lead the direction in which we travel, and I model the way in which we want our teams to operate, behave, and enjoy the journey.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not in the slightest! Growing up, my aim was to be a journalist – and I was fortunate to practice journalism in both India and the UK. The move to communications was unplanned, and the decision to set up Lynn was definitely in response to opportunities available to me at the time. I’m very glad I took the leap of faith to create something truly different – a consultancy that lives and breathes our purpose and values every single day; a consultancy creating tangible, positive change in our society. I am really very lucky to have the team I have today. A team who believes in what we are trying to achieve and who works hard every day to improve and save lives in the UK and beyond.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I launched Lynn just weeks before the Covid pandemic took hold. On the one hand, you’d think this was a terrible time to start a business, but it made me drive even harder. Behavioural science was critical to both Covid response and recovery. It was here that—Lynn was able to establish itself as a firm that deeply understood human behaviours and then embraced, interpreted and integrated these into creative communications to drive persuasive content and calls to action to deliver change for good.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

A completely bootstrapped agency, we came to market with a radically different offering – that is, to integrate science into creative communications to deliver positive change at scale. In just over three years, we have worked with some of the world’s most sought after clients, launched cutting-edge services – fighting misinformation, addressing health inequalities, and saving our planet. We have also won awards at home and the world stage, been listed in global rankings (we were the UK and the world’s fastest growing communications business in 2022) but most meaningfully, provided innovative behaviour change solutions that have measurably improved and saved lives.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

There were both personal and professional factors that made it possible for me to achieve my success.

Personally, none of this would be possible without my husband who gave me financial, emotional and physical support to found Lynn. I started Lynn with just £2,000 in the bank and I took a significant pay cut — as most entrepreneurs do — to grow the business. My husband’s support was vital to me, the business, and our family.

And professionally, a solid, truly differentiated proposition at the right place, right time.  The pandemic increased the salience of behavioural science when effectively integrated with communications. Lynn was one of a handful of solutions providing creative services in this space with a track record of success.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I am a huge advocate for mentoring, not just for what we can give back but what we can learn from future talent. As a fellow of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR), I have mentored for several years, and my mentees have gone on to bigger and better things; such as, winning awards themselves and leading impactful programmes. And they have taught me so much, positively challenged my thinking and opened my eyes to new ideas and new possibilities.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

If I can, I’d like to change two things to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity. First of all, I believe we need transparent salary banding, especially for recruitment purposes; this honesty and transparency will help drive positive change. Secondly, we need regular reporting in place to help demonstrate any gap as well as give advice on actions that the organisation is taking / should take to reduce this.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be brave. Live your purpose with authenticity, fearlessly.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Lynn is centred around innovation. We are constantly pushing the boundaries within the communications practice. As Lynn embarks on its next phase of growth, I will be looking to lead the team into more specialist areas to support clients with challenges today, and challenges of tomorrow. We are also working to better understand how we augment our specialist services with responsible, skilled use of AI and ML.

Personally, I will be looking to further develop Lynn’s own learning & development platform, Lynn Academy, with a view to creating a cutting-edge programme to create, nurture, and empower the disruptive leaders of the future.

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