Who's who Wednesday

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

If you'd like to be featured, just complete the online template and send your favourite photo. If there's someone you'd love to know more about, let us know and we'll do the rest!

Name

Sarah Meurer

Company

The Surgery - Creative Communications Agency

Job Title

Internal Communications Director

Time with company

4 years

Connect with Sarah

Take five

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

A Vet. Whilst I went a different route, we do have one horse, two ponies, two dogs and two guinea pigs so it does feel like an animal sanctuary at our house (not forgetting my daughters Brooke aged 10 and Neve aged 7 who add to the chaos).

Where is your favourite place in the world?

The world is full of beautiful places and I've been lucky enough to travel to some of them, Cape Town, Hawaii, Kenya, Shanghai, Zanzibar etc. but my favourite place in the world is being tucked up on our sofa at home, on a cold rainy day with the fire going, watching a James Bond film with my family after a delicious Sunday lunch.

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

'Stick to your Knitting' in other words, do what you do well.

What’s the secret to a good life?

Family, friends, horses, wine and laughter in equal measure to a job where you are valued, you can be yourself and there is room to grow.

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

I had a fork lift licence which I used to unload artic lorries for an experiential events agency. We supported brands such as Strongbow and Old El Paso at Leeds Carling Weekend and Reading Festival. I was 23 years old at the time. It was my first job out of university and I was given the role of project manager. I was the only girl on the all-boys team which I loved.

Customer Campaign we delivered for National Grid including the Bring Energy App designed to share the Purpose, Vision and. Values to all their employees – this has been nominated for an award this year.

Tell us a bit about your role:

I joined the Surgery in 2014. At the time I was working for Centrica and was so impressed with The Surgery's approach that I left the utilities giant to lead their internal communications team. British Gas’s IC Manager, Carly Murray quickly followed suit and joined me. Together we have built a business that approaches IC challenges in a fresh way. We have helped transform a boutique design and digital agency founded in 2013, into an industry leading creative internal communications agency, working with clients such as FIFA, Rolls-Royce, Penguin Random House, E.ON, National Grid, NATS, The Law Society and Viacom.

In the same year we joined, we launched ‘Barn to Boardroom’, a thought leadership programme hosted in a 17th Century barn which stands on the working farm that, we at the Surgery, call home. This friendly, informal event has gone from strength to strength over the past few years with many of our clients having been speakers or guests.

The first ‘Barn to Boardroom in the City’ event is taking place this year on 1st February at the Foundry in Vauxhall, London. Focused on building a customer culture inside your organisation, speakers from E.ON, National Grid and Roche will share their insight in a relaxed, inspiring environment.

What’s on your internal comms agenda right now?

Aside from the exciting projects we are delivering for our clients, the following keeps me awake at night:
1. Employee Experience as a new frontier for Internal Communicators - How do you bring together different disciplines / functions to consider the employee experience journey from start to finish?
2. Real-Time Employee Insight - how do clients set themselves up to succeed whilst dealing with the quantity of data this approach generates?
3. IC Measurement and Reporting - what measures can feed into a world-class dashboard and how is this information used by communicators and leaders?
4. How to build Customer Culture inside an Organisation - How do you help a business future proof itself by ensuring it is creating products and services that meet future customer needs?

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

Many of our clients have found a renewed focus on Customer Centricity is bringing company culture into question. How do you help employees view everything through the customer lens and ensure the customer voice is driving our decision making?

We've recently had an article published by the IOIC that talks to this point in more depth.

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

Becoming the first retained internal communications agency for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. This has been a massive highlight in my career - we are so proud to work for Rolls-Royce and the corporate comms team headed up by the relentlessly hardworking Richard Carter.

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

You don't need to be a great writer to work in internal communications. It is a myth born out of a tradition of people with an editorial background (I am generalising slightly) moving into internal communications. I came a completely different route, starting out in experiential conferencing, going onto become events manager at GSK UK Pharma and finally making my move to become Communications Director in GSK's global head office. Since then I have held a number of roles including internal communications business partner, leadership comms and Head of Internal Communications. While I write often, my people and verbal communication skills are equally as important, as is the confidence to challenge the status quo and have a strategic mindset.

Internal communications is an unbelievably rewarding sector. We are still learning so much, becoming more sophisticated and challenging each other to do more to help businesses realise the untapped potential of their people.

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

1. Shift from Internal Communications/Employee Engagement to Employee Experience

2. Real-time Employee Measurement impacting on decision making

3. Evidenced business change and transformation from the bottom-up as well as top-down. Last year was the year of 'Storytelling' - We found a lot of our clients were using customer storytelling as a way to start changing behaviour within an organisation.

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