Introducing Rachel Bell

Sep 06, 2019 14:42:52 PM

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Introducing Rachel Bell, Chairman of The Academy Media Group (formerly Shine) & Co-author of Start-Ups, Pivots and Pop-ups.

Rachel Bell was recently speaking at an event our MD Tom James attended. Whilst at the event, Tom told me how inspirational Rachel’s talk was and that she would be an ideal person for me to speak with for my blogs. He wasn’t wrong!

rghehEH - Introducing Rachel Bell
Rachel Bell

I reached out to Rachel on LinkedIn and she came back to me to arrange a time to chat and it was a great conversation, I could have sat and spoken with her for hours. I feel so empowered and motivated when speaking to women like Rachel. Business women that have come out of their comfort zone and been really successful as a result. #girlpower

Early Life

Rachel started her own business at 29, after leaving her role in an international PR Agency where she was an Account Director. Rachel told me that one of her biggest achievements (ahead of starting her own business) was she had managed to win a pitch as an Account Director. In her position within the company at the time, this was not something she would have usually led, however her boss was called away on a client crisis so she stepped up and gave it a shot. She wowed the clients and ended up landing the deal.


Rachel and her team worked tirelessly for the client for a number of months but her agency bosses were frustrated by the over servicing needed to manage the complicated account. Despite the promise of her doubling budgets, Rachel’s boss resigned the account. At that time she’d just learnt her father was seriously unwell, and in a fit of pique she decided to hand in her notice.

Shine was born

Rachel’s client (also frustrated) approached her to work with them in-house, but she decided the set-up would work better as an outsourced agency, so Rachel decided to go it alone and Shine was born.

After sadly losing her father, Rachel told me how she recalled receiving her first business call stood in her family home and thought to herself “I can do this and I am going to do it really well”. Shine was named after the famous quote from Nelson Mandela:

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

Rachel told me that when she created Shine, she had a vision of building an agency where everyone was encouraged to shine. To this day, 21 years after Rachel founded the company, Shine has been really successful.

Shine went on to win over 100 business and industry awards including the Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For, but Rachel didn’t stop there. From the talent she grew at Shine, she went on to found a further SIX award winning PR agencies, and in 2016 Rachel took Shine to a new era when it was acquired by The Academy, and became Chairman in the process.


Today, Rachel owns a number of companies, including businesses in other sectors such as recycled car parts, I Need Spares and an engineering company, CIS with an office here in Portsmouth. A lot of her time is now spent working as a non-exec director for professional services companies, supporting them build and shape their businesses using her extensive experience to help others ‘shine’.

What was Rachel’s one piece of advice?

“Back talent, hire for attitude and make sure your people feel listened to and importantly heard.” 

Rachel Bell has a book available on Amazon from the 3rd of October. The book was written by Rachel and Richard Hall and is called Start-Ups, Pivots and Pop-Ups: How to Success By Creating Your Own Business. If you’ve read this blog and found Rachel just as inspirational as I have, check out her book!

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