Who's who in IC?

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

If you'd like to be featured, just complete this form and send your favourite photo!


Oli Howard



Job Title

Interim Head of Strategy Development

Time with company

18 months

Connect with Oli

Take five

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

I wanted to dig up dinosaur fossils. I have a very early memory of drawing myself doing this.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

This is so boring. It's probably my car. Not because it's a nice car. But because it is where I feel calm and still (except on the M25 maybe!) My brain gets into flow when I'm driving - so it is often where my best ideas come to me.

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

Time travel. Go back. Fix a few things I could've done better. Mess up the space-time continuum.

What's the one thing not many people know about you?

Before moving out of London and having kids I was a quite committed singer-songwriter - playing a few gigs a month usually and making a couple of records (don't look - you won't find them anymore)...

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

A coach I was lucky enough to work with for a year or so taught me to really analyse my negative responses to situations and understand what had triggered them. In context, things are rarely as bad as you felt. I've applied it a lot at work. Though it doesn't seem to work as well for dealing with 2 year-olds who persistently wake up at night...

Tell us a bit about your role:

I'm currently Head of Strategy Development for the CIPD - the professional body for HR and people development, having joined them 18 months ago, initially on a contract to review their internal communication. I completed the review and the opportunity to step into the strategy role to cover maternity leave came up. Having worked closely with the strategy team on developing the organisation's narrative, I felt well-placed to be more involved in the substance as well as its articulation.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

Engaging with staff to bring together the best of our collective knowledge, insights and ideas so we can put these to use against our ambitious goals for the next three to five years.

What has had the biggest impact on internal comms in your organisation in the past year?

Our leadership team committed to a group development programme following some changes in roles and personnel. It has resulted in greater alignment, commitment to a singular vision and willingness to have difficult conversations in pursuit of that. From my perspective, that has started to result in real improvements in how leaders engage with other staff.

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

Bringing together the wider leadership group in the organisation (we call it the 'extended' leadership team) through regular meetings and greater involvement in change and planning. With so many perspectives and portfolios of work represented, these aren't always straightforward conversations. But they are worthwhile and, I believe, are resulting in us laying the foundations for greater cooperation across functions and greater consistency in what we communicate on to our teams.

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

Commit to your professional development. I am a board member at the Institute for Internal Communication (IoIC) and am fully committed to the idea that the more we grow our skills and knowledge, the more value we add to the organisations we work for - and the more the credibility of the profession goes up as a consequence.

What do you think the top three trends in internal communication will be in the next year?

1. 2019 looks like it'll be a year of continued uncertainty for most UK organisations. Internal communicators will need to keep a firm eye on the external so they can anticipate the right time / way to communicate internally.

2. I think there will be an effort across the profession to better understand what kinds of IC practice are most effective in driving business outcomes. This is hard. And work towards it has been fragmented. But I believe we'll see progress.

3. A growing recognition that face-to-face conversations carry the most power in internal communication. That's not to say tech isn't an important thing - but it's not the most important thing.

© pfk the communications agency.