Who's who in IC?

Welcome to our regular profile about who's who in internal comms.

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Jean Burke


Job Title

Executive Coach, facilitator and trainer

Time with company

10+ years

Connect with Jean

Take five

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A lawyer. I'm still a massive fan of a legal drama though I'm useless at deciphering the clues in any form of whodunnit!

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Connemara on the west coast of Ireland. It's wild, rugged and incredibly beautiful all at the same time. Sadly, I don't get there enough. Failing that south west France with a glass of wine in one hand and some delicious cheese and crusty bread in the other!

If you could have one wish, what would it be?

That we could all be better at listening to one another.

If you could have any super power what would you choose?

Time travel.

What’s the secret to a good life?

Balance. Being able to take time out to recognise and celebrate what you've already achieved rather than striving for the next big thing. Sadly, I continue to be an apprentice on that one.

Tell us a bit about your role:

As an Executive Coach and trainer my role is varied. It’s about helping healthcare professionals, clinicians and their teams perform to the best of their abilities through improved self-awareness, better communication and a greater understanding of systems dynamics. I'm also an accredited psychotherapist, so I tend to adapt psychological and therapeutic models to enable organisations and leaders achieve sustainable change. Much of my work is done through one-to-one coaching, communication skills workshops and reflective practice groups.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

Working largely within the NHS and healthcare, it will come as no surprise I'm sure that financial pressures and demand for change are top of mind. However, as we all know change cannot happen without an engaged workforce; so, I would say in the midst of these pressures the challenge is to ensure that the humanity in healthcare is not lost and that staff feel supported and listened to throughout.

Who or what has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?

I suspect my view is biased because of the nature of the work I do, but I have certainly seen a greater willingness to have real conversations about mental health and wellbeing in organisations in the past 12 months. I think we’re still tackling symptoms rather than causes but at least we have started.

This sort of thing has traditionally sat with HR, but I think internal comms is playing an increasingly important role here, not least in working alongside HR to equip leaders with the tools and resources to encourage such conversations with their teams.

What’s your proudest achievement or best day in your current role?

So many achievements and best days, but I still get the biggest kick from working with a group of delegates on a difficult conversations workshop where they really push themselves out of their comfort zone in a role play and have a massive breakthrough as a result. It takes courage to do that. To see people head back into the workplace with renewed confidence is very rewarding.

How would you advise someone considering a career in internal comms?

Spend time getting to grips with the business/operational model of the organisation within which you work. This is what builds credibility not the latest shiny new comms model or tool. After that, never lose sight of what it is like on the 'shop floor'. Build and nurture your network and reach out to key influencers to test or validate new ideas and concepts before rolling out.

What do you think are the top three trends in internal communications to watch out for in 2018?

Not sure about new trends, but what remains a priority as I see it is being able to navigate change when it is the only constant, encourage empathic communication at all organisational levels and build trust when it is being eroded all around us. Trends will come and go.

© pfk the communications agency.