A question of comms: Lisa Gwinnell

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A question of comms: Lisa Gwinnell

Lisa Gwinnell, Head of Employee and Leadership Communications at Siemens UK is in my hot seat today.

She’s shared her thoughts on reusable content, frowning, why you need to be a sponge, and much more.

With that intriguing combination, I’ll hand you over to Lisa…

1. When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?

Not long after I joined Siemens 10 years ago as a Marketing Assistant, I was promoted to Marketing Manager. Despite having a remit covering all comms disciplines, I naturally found myself being drawn into spending more time on internal communications.

It was mainly because I could see real opportunities for improvement and was pretty confident I had the skills to do it.

It wasn’t long before I was 100% IC.

2. What do you like most about working in this field?

Ultimately it’s about being part of Siemens’ success. The link between employee engagement and a successful, responsible organisation is well documented but when you see little gems of it in action that you’ve helped instigate or provided the platform for, it’s great.

This is particularly in such a large organisation like Siemens where it can be a confusing place sometimes for employees.

3. What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

Your career is a marathon not a sprint, never underestimate the power of emails to cause offence and stop frowning so much (that’s a personal one I’m still working on)

4. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?

Be a sponge! Never stop reading, learning, following comms people and interesting businesses on social platforms, including the one in which you’re employed. If you’ve not got a comms mentor, that can be really useful.

However, the basis of any good communications professional is the English language and writing skills.

(Agreed! Check out the next All Things IC Writing Skills Masterclass on 18 October if you’d like to work on your technique – Rachel). 

5. What does a typical day or working week look like for you?

I’ll try and be at my base office in Poole for at least two days a week, but the rest will be a mix of visiting other sites and my team.

One day I could be in our HQ in Frimley, Surrey, and the next I could be in safety boots and a hi-vis at one of our train maintenance depots, where I’m equally as comfortable.

Within that, my day involves building relationships across the organisation to get visibility of what’s going on to plan our channels accordingly (and avoid too much cross-fire!), managing some specific internal communications projects which could be business specific or for all employees and also working with my global colleagues on channel improvements.

I love the variety and the fact I get to work with a hugely diverse set of people.

6.  Name a book you think every communicator should read, and why you’ve chosen it

It’s a bit non-traditional but ‘The life-changing magic of not giving a f***‘. I think many communications people, myself included, have a tendency to be people-pleasers, taking on too much and having difficulty saying no.

This just reminds you of the ability to focus on things that matter to you both in work and life in general so that you don’t spread yourself too thinly.

There is a great deal to be said for the link between reaching a personal maturity about your own happiness and finding work satisfaction. How profound!

7. What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without?

A sense of humour, for sure. Being able to laugh off frustrations or situations that arise is a great tonic.

8. What is the future of internal communication?

For me it’s about digital channels, reusability of content, self-service and automation wherever possible. Much of my focus these days is about ensuring content can be reused across our various channels with ease, linking up systems and platforms so they talk to each other and provide the right content to the right audience at the right time.

It’s not always digital channels however, as much of my work is supporting face to face communications, but we are lucky to have never had so much appetite and provision of digital internal communications platforms.

9. Where can people find you online?

Via LinkedIn and also Instagram and Twitter @lisagwinnell.
Post author: Lisa Gwinnell.

Thank you Lisa. I enjoyed your answers, and am adding that book to my wish list, what a great recommendation!

Rachel

Want to learn more about internal communication?

Sign up to attend an All Things IC Masterclass. These are one-day courses held in London to help boost your comms skills and meet other practitioners.

Danielle Chan, Head of Communications and Engagement, Community Integrated Care, attended my Strategic Internal Comms Masterclass in December 2016.

She said: “I had a fantastic day on the Strategic Internal Communication Masterclass a few months ago. I came away with a wealth of practical ideas and approaches, many of which I’ve implemented since.

“More than anything it was so useful spending time with other Comms professionals, sharing experiences and working on solutions together. Rachel is an absolute dream tutor and was even on-hand post Masterclass to answer some additional questions I had. She’s so supportive and encouraging, and is genuinely interested in helping you develop. The value of this session certainly doesn’t stop at the end of the day. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this class.”

Thank you very much Danielle.

See the Masterclasses website to browse and book upcoming topics and read other feedback from delegates. Courses cost £399+VAT for the Writing Skills Masterclass with Helen Deverell (18 October 2017) and £499+VAT for the Strategic Internal Comms and Internal Comms Masterclasses.

If you’re a CIPR or Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) member, you can earn CPD points for attending one of my courses and can save 20% using a discount code. Nonprofit organisations can also save 20% using the code NFP20. (Please note you can only apply one discount per transaction).

Full info is on the Masterclasses website, I hope you can join me at a future one.

Thank you as ever for stopping by,

Rachel.

First published on the All Things IC blog 21 March 2017.

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