My first blog

2019…where did that come from?

Happy New Year! 

I’m Pauline Foster and I’m celebrating 20 years as an independent internal communication consultant.

To commemorate this wondrous event, I’ve produced a desk calendar (details on how to grab a copy are at the end of this blog), which focuses on themes of interest to internal communicators, such as storytelling (January) or giving something back (September). Each theme will be explored monthly with blogs, articles, hints, tips and links to free resources from the experts.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me on my journey so far.

Of course, you don’t hit a milestone like this without a bit of reflection, so here are my top 10 highlights from the past 20 years of my wonderful career.

1. I was presented with this ‘Making it Happen‘ award from Thomas Cook Financial Services (TCFS) in 1999, for leading the Charity Challenge fundraising programme to exceed their target of £125,000. A really proud moment was the presentation to myself and TCFS colleagues of the ‘Challenge to Care‘ award from NCH, seen below with newsreaders Nicholas Owen (left) and Kirsty Young (right) at Mansion House in London. I left TCFS soon after to become self-employed, starting off with an interim contract at AMP Banking, trading as pfk Marketing Services.

2. There were so many highlights working with AMP, it’s hard to pick just one! But the official launch of the UK bank has to be it. After many months of waiting for confirmation that AMP Banking had been granted their licence, we were finally able to set the wheels in motion for the internal launch. I somehow persuaded people to dress up as astronauts and ground crew as part of the ‘We have lift off!’ theme. The internet hadn’t really taken hold 20 years ago so it was quite a challenge to find the astronaut’s outfit (modelled here by the wonderful Richard Young).

3. Moving from my home office to the top floor of a building in the centre of Peterborough in 2002 was really exciting. My assistant Jemma Fletcher (nee Griffiths – front left) and clients from P&O Trans European, P&O Ferrymasters, Deafblind UK, AMP UK and Jobs4Youth joined colleagues and friends to celebrate at the official pfk launch party.

4. An introduction from a friend led to a long relationship with Deafblind UK. I was honoured to be entrusted by Jackie Bland (nee Hicks), CEO at the time, with the hugely important task of producing a 35 metre display for their new purpose-built headquarters in Peterborough in time for their launch event. Together with the project team of creatives and volunteer models we told the story of what life is like for people with sight and hearing loss.

5. I absolutely loved working with Ken Lee and the team at Inchcape Retail. I joined them for three days a week in 2005, to provide internal comms management while they recruited for the role, and stayed with them for over three years as their outsourced IC partner. customerfirst, the employee magazine, which I revamped to align with the Group strategy and produced on a monthly basis, was a particular highlight as it allowed me to be nosy and find out the stories of customers and colleagues from the front line through the exec.

6. Inchcape was also the focus of my 20,000 word dissertation, which earned me a Master of Arts with Commendation for Internal Communication Management at Kingston University and introduced me to some great people (left to right: Ian MacKenzie, Jo Chapman, Susan Levy…and me!).

7.  In 2012, I returned to permanent employment for a while as Head of Internal Communications and Engagement at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, a great role where I was able to make a real difference.  Here I am speaking with Ian Luxford at the Millbank Tower in London about our IoIC award-winning Engaging for Success programme.

8. ReAssure has been a part of my life since 2010. This is another company I joined on a consultancy basis to help communicate a change to employee terms and conditions, staying on to support with internal comms while they recruited for the right person. That right person was Chris Wallis, who I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with over many years on numerous projects. Their rebrand from Admin Re to ReAssure in 2016 is surely one of the biggest highlights, which climaxed with helping to tell their story with this huge corporate timeline, project managed by Rebecca Dawson (left) and Anna Craig.

9. I was introduced to EY by Gatehouse to support with a three-month global internal comms contract in 2014 and was initially overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of the company…around 220,000 employees! I’ve since worked with EY’s brand, marketing and communications (BMC) team on a variety of global projects over the past four years and have made lifelong friends in far flung places. The highlight of all the projects so far must be the launch of the BMC Academy, a fully integrated internal campaign that built on the external ‘better questions’ marketing strategy.

10. In February this year (2018) I joined Peterborough City Council’s (PCC) Communications and Media team, for a three-to-six week period, while a permanent IC and Engagement Manager was found. Three weeks became seven months and resulted in two awards for my work leading the communication for the council’s transition to agile working and move to purpose-built new premises.

At the awards evening with Stuart Tarbuck (PCC Interim Head of Comms & Media) and Jaspreet Matharu (former PCC Internal Comms and Engagement Officer).

Thank you to everyone – friends, colleagues, and clients past and present – for your support.

What a great end to the year! Here’s to the next 20…

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and peaceful 2019.

p.s. Thanks for reading. If you’d like a chat about a project do please contact me – pauline@commsagency.co.uk or by phone – 07764 585635.

HOW TO GRAB YOUR FREE COMMS CALENDAR: The first 20 people to sign-up to my monthly bulletin will receive my limited edition desk calendar. Simply fill in this contact form with ‘SIGN ME UP’ as the subject heading. 

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