WSA The Communications Agency is a family-run business based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes. Founded by Jane Curtis in 2005, the company provides a full-service solution for advertising, marketing, social media, digital, design, websites and public relations. Now, after 14 years with the company, Jane’s son, Austin Walters, is taking up the mantle of Director and will oversee the strategic direction and evolution of the agency.
Below, Austin shares his pride and excitement at authoring the next chapter of the WSA story…
With 14 years and three roles behind me, I know the agency never stops evolving. It won’t ever have a final form. Nor should it. Our people and clients will forever be hungry for new ideas and better ways of working. One thing that will be a constant is the desire to go on an upward journey with our clients, no matter where we start out. What we have now is a valuable moment in time to gather feedback, explore ideas and think about different approaches. From there we’ll build the newest incarnation of WSA.
WSA remains a family business. There’ll always be an extra ounce of passion and commitment when the name (or initial in this case) is sitting above the door and it is a real privilege to take this forward with the support of a brilliant team. Thinking about the future potential of the agency is quite a lot of fun. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a serious responsibility. Above all I want WSA to be something people feel a positive connection with – that goes for our employees, our clients, our suppliers and our community. That we’re a unique group with talent, originality, spirit, persistence, expertise, judgement and an ability to create value.
In the beginning
I was about 13 when a friend and I launched our own skateboarding magazine and deck design company. We even opened a joint account and ended up with about £40 in there. Strange fate that we both run design businesses now. As for academia, the longer I studied the more distracted I became. I was interested in science, technology, music, history and business but left school without completing A levels.
In 2007, I completed a Diploma in Music Technology – ready to go and become a full-time recording engineer and part-time (but world-renowned) DJ. After a short stint in a drum and bass record shop being paid largely in vinyl and a few months as an AV technician working corporate events I couldn’t settle. I liked the technology but it wasn’t challenging enough. I moved to a specialised recruitment agency. That was the right kind of challenge – a great foothold in the business world and journey of discovery into working with and importantly for people – clients, candidates and colleagues. I was lucky enough to work on some great accounts like Sky, Sony and BBC. I still had a long way to go but it was the start of something new.
A couple of years later I made a sideways move, from recruitment Account Manager to recruitment advertising Account Manager. And once again I started over from scratch. Only this time was a bit different. This was my family business. But that didn’t mean a free ride. Off the back of the financial crisis, I was building my own client base and going out to find and win new business. A lot of those clients still work with us today. I kept learning and trying to hone my business and marketing skills. I studied CIM and Business outside of work whilst building my own client base at WSA.
I became more and more interested in modern marketing and launched our digital marketing function bringing new services into the business such as social media, paid search and web design. As our client base and service offer diversified, I learnt more about marketing, strategy, creativity and writing, working on branding and comms campaign concepts for clients across healthcare, education and the third sector. Beyond that I’ve coordinated two office moves, an agency merger and two major system implementations. I am eternally grateful for these challenges and opportunities as I don’t think I’d have had the variety or chance to develop my skills in the same way had it not been for WSA.
Outside of professional life (although they sometimes overlap) I like a challenge. I’ve run a few marathons, an ultramarathon and gone 7 days without food. Running, cycling, bouldering, surfing, hiking, martial arts – anything active I’m game. I’ve been a volunteer mentor for over 3 years at an organisation called Sported who provide business consultancy and advice to grassroots sports clubs and organisations. I also have a wife and two children. Life is full.
Past, present and future success
WSA has previously won national recognition at The Firm Awards for its work with Elysium Healthcare, winning best development of an employer brand, alongside successes at the 2022 SME MK and Buckinghamshire Business Awards and Bedfordshire Chamber Awards. The business is particularly strong in the healthcare and education sectors, having worked with the likes of Milton Keynes University Hospital, Orchard Care Homes, NHS Professionals, Elysium Healthcare and hundreds of schools and colleges across the UK.
The business has regularly lent its support to charities and not-for-profit organisations locally, including partnerships with organisations such as Ride High, YMCA, Milton Keynes Community Foundation, Camphill MK, Willen Hospice, Worktree. I’ll be participating in the MK CEO Sleepout in November this year in support of our charity partner St Mark’s Meals.
My hopes for the future are simple. That WSA is a place to turn talent, ambition and interests into great ideas. That we endorse health, security and fulfilment by being organised and focusing on what matters. That the success stories from our clients and our staff over the last 18 years are a blueprint for the years ahead.
As part of the recent changes at the helm of WSA, Jane Curtis is retiring from the business she founded in 2005, and Jerry Taylor has moved into a consultancy position. On the decision to formally hand the reigns of the business over to Austin, Jane said,
“Handing over the reins of the business is a bit like passing your child to someone else to look after. It comes with a huge amount of faith, trust and belief that you are doing the right thing. I could not be prouder of Austin for all of the reasons that you appoint a successor – a person who has the same standards, beliefs, aims and motivation that you had when you started the business and wants to carry on the good work that’s been done for almost two decades.
Valuing people is in our family genes and I know that I can retire with the confidence of knowing that Austin will carry on the good work with the skilled team we have built and the clients we have worked with. I am excited to see how the next stage of the agency will evolve and will always have an interest in what is going on, so I’ll be holding on to the front door key for a while so that I can stay connected with the best group of people that I have had the pleasure to work with. I wish Austin and the whole team endless good luck”.