A candid conversation with Sophia Walker

Welcome to our latest Candid Conversation guest Sophia Walker, Internal Communications Manager at Morgan Sindall Property Services based in the UK.

Sophia has worked in Communications since 2017, before specialising in internal communications.

If you’d like to share your internal comms stories and experiences for the All Things IC, complete our submission form, and one of the team will be in touch.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked in comms or where you are in the world; we’d love to share your story.

Over to Sophia for her Candid Conversation…

A headshot photo of Sophia Walker, promoting the blog article A Candid Conversation with Sophia Walker.

How did you discover internal communication as a profession?
I originally started my career in publishing, and although I enjoyed it, I knew I wanted a role I could spend more time using my writing and creative skills. I stumbled upon internal communications while I was searching for my next role and read everything I could find on it, including All Things IC!

I quickly became hooked and started a CIPR qualification to begin my career change. I’ve worked solely in internal communication for over four years and absolutely love it.

What do you love most about working in the internal comms profession?
It sounds cliche, but every day is different. There is plenty of scope to be creative; writing news articles or drafting senior leadership communications as well as designing posters, flyers and videos.

You also have space to work strategically, around wider behaviour and culture change. I’m also hugely passionate about making organisations a happier place to work, so making an impact in that area is hugely rewarding.

Do you have a memorable moment to share about when an IC project didn’t quite go to plan?
In a previous role, we held monthly conferences for the whole company. One guest speaker, who was speaking remotely through Teams, had so many technical difficulties that at one point, we attempted to have them on a Google Hangout meeting, screenshared into the Teams Live event! Eventually, we had to admit defeat, which was disappointing, but at least I knew we’d done everything possible to make it happen.

What’s been a highlight of your internal comms career so far?
The highlight of my career has been launching a new channel for managers at my current organisation. I had feedback that employees felt they were receiving too many ad-hoc emails from functions such as Human Resources and IT, so I created a channel to combine all the important monthly updates in a magazine format to make it accessible and engaging. I’ve had some great feedback since, and it’s become one of our most trusted channels.

Another highlight has to be the colleagues I’ve met across my career. In my experience, internal communicators are some of the most passionate, kind and hardworking people I’ve met, and so many of my previous colleagues still constantly inspire me.

What do you feel has been the biggest change to our profession you’ve seen or experienced in your career?
Over my career so far, I’ve watched internal communications become a trusted and valued profession. The first two companies I worked at didn’t have internal comms departments, and now there are a plethora of roles available in IC.

The tools we use have also become so much more sophisticated and now align more with marketing teams, which is great to see as it means we can be really impactful and effective in our measurement and evaluation.

How would you define internal communication to someone who didn’t know about it?
To me, internal communications is making sure that employees have the information they need to know how to do their jobs well, to know what the company is working towards and how they belong, and to know how they are valued at the company and why they should want to remain working there.

Internal communicators can help create an environment where everyone feels involved in the mission of the company, and feel passionate about what they do.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting out in internal comms?
It can often feel daunting to get started in internal communications as there are lots of vocabulary, models and acronyms to learn. These can be useful and raise the quality of your internal communications, but getting started, I’d focus on just learning as much as possible about the company you are working for. Each audience of employees is different, and the best way to create brilliant internal comms is to really understand your audience and their environment.

What are your top tips when it comes to continued professional development to stay up to date on everything internal comms related?
I have completed two CIPR qualifications in internal communications which were absolutely brilliant and helped me so much with understanding the methodology of internal communications. They’ve given me the confidence to support my opinions to senior leaders with theory and research.

However, thanks to generous IC practitioners like Rachel Miller, there is a wealth of free information online of blogs and podcasts sharing best practices, case studies and schools of thought. Make as much use of that as you can, as well as following people that inspire you on LinkedIn and watch what they’re doing. There are some brilliant communicators out there really pushing the quality of internal comms higher and higher.

If you could go back in time and speak to yourself when you started your IC career, what advice would you give?

The best way to learn is from other people. Watch and learn as much as you can, but also ask all the questions you have. In my experience, people are very generous with their time and are always happy to help people starting their careers, or learning about internal communication.

Thank you Sophia for sharing your candid conversation with readers of the All Things IC blog.

You can connect with Sophia on LinkedIn.

Post author: Dan Holden

First published on the All Things IC blog 20 September 2023.

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