I wanted to be either a scientist or an archeologist, but I spectacularly failed my A' levels and couldn't go to university. I later got my science degree by studying with the Open University. It took me nine years but by the time I graduated my career had sifted into communications and starting over in science didn't appeal to me anymore. It wasn't a wasted experience however, the discipline of studying part-time whilst holding down a full-time job taught me a lot about personal resilience and determination. If you really put your mind to it you can achieve things you never thought were possible.
If you could be a fictional character, what would it be?
Indiana Jones......well I did say I wanted to be an archaeologist!
Where is your favourite place in the world?
South Africa. The scenery, culture, history and people are amazing. I've been countless times over the last few years and it almost feels like a second home now.
What’s the secret to a good life?
Your family, friendship and good health. You don't really need anything else.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
When I worked in government I acted as private secretary for a senior civil servant. The job was intense and I don't think I've ever met a more determined person. The best piece of advice she gave me was that if you can't see a way straight through a problem or issue, go under, around or over the top of it. There's always a way to get to the other side if you look hard enough and think creatively.
Tell us a bit about your role:
I'm currently working on a part-time contract at the University of Bradford for the next few months. I have also just set-up my own internal communications consultancy, ggelf IC.
At the university I'm acting as a communications consultant to support various teams with a range of transformation and organisational development projects. The higher education sector is going through some challenging times at the moment. This is driving some fairly fundamental changes in how universities operate, so there is a lot going on and good communication is really important to help deliver the right organisational outcomes for the university and our students.
What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?
So many things! I'm working on an organisational development culture and values project which will help colleagues shape and share a new behaviours framework. I've also been working with academic colleagues to develop a new student communications strategy and am just at the point of taking that into the implementation phase. On the tactical side, I’m also collaborating with the Internal Communications Team on some options for improving our email-based communications for colleagues working at the university. Later this month, I'll be joining a project team to start work on an internal and external engagement strategy for the university to help us better connect with the city, region and key stakeholders.
Alongside all of this I'm working to get my own internal communications consultancy, ggelf IC, off the ground. So, if anyone is looking for some expert help to get internal communication right inside their organisation I'm available for hire in Yorkshire and the North of England!
Finally, in my ‘spare time’ I’m also a committee member and treasurer for CIPR Inside the CIPR sectoral group for members working in internal communications and employee engagement. Follow the link to check out the website and see what we are up to.
What has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?
Really making the effort to do lots of face to face communication at the university. In times of change, face-to-face is king and I've been working really hard with the leadership team to help them explain why the university needs to change. That's meant helping colleagues understand some of the external contexts and what the university is doing to tackle the challenges these present. It's the first time we've really brought the 'outside inside' and I think that has helped a lot with raising understanding and what colleagues working at the university need to do to continue delivering a great experience for our students.
What’s your proudest achievement or best day in your current role?
Seeing some of our leadership team working really well together at the face-to-face town hall events we ran last year. They had some tough messages to deliver and there were some challenging questions and behaviours from colleagues in the audience, but they worked together as a team to give honest and authentic answers. I was so proud of them.
How would you advise someone considering a career in internal comms?
I'm passionate about professionalism in internal communications. Joining a professional body was the best thing I ever did and my advice would be to join one straight away. That way you get access to all the learning and continuous professional development resources you'll need and also be connected to a huge network of other internal communicators who will be able to offer support.
What do you think the top three trends in internal communication will be in the next year?
Employee experience, digital workplace and the convergence of internal and external communications. I think all of these will increase the need for internal communicators to work even more collaboratively with colleagues in human resources, information technology and organisational development.