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Website Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Deputy Director – Group Head of Internal Communications, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Location: Bristol, London or York with the expectation of weekly travel to London.
Apply before 11:55 pm on Sunday 19 July 2020
Ref: 57078
Salary: From £75,000
Grade: SCS Pay Band 1

This is an exciting opportunity to take on a key leadership role in Defra’s Group Communications team at a time of significant change.

We are the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Our broad remit means we play a major role in people’s day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.

Effective internal communication and engagement (IC&E) sits at the heart of delivering this work. Now more than ever, with this major agenda to deliver againstthe backdrop of covid-19, it’s vital that all our people understand where we are going as a group of organisations and how we plan to change and improve the ways we work to achieve our goals.

Reporting to the Group Director of Communications, you will be responsible for providing high quality communications advice to senior leaders and will lead the delivery of a strategic programme of internal communications which informs, engages and leads to changes in behaviour across the Defra group. You will play a key role in connecting our 23,000 people, promoting collaboration and helping them take pride in our work to leave the environment in a better state for the future. The internal communications challenge across the Defra group is one of the most complex and exciting opportunities in public sector communications. You will be joining at a unique time of change as we take the best from what we have learned in recent months to shape our future and working culture.

Working as part of the SCS leadership of the Defra group Communications team, you will work directly with the Permanent Secretary, members of the Executive Committee and senior leaders from the group including our main agencies and NDPBs like the Environment Agency and Natural England. You will lead a team of over 30 IC&E professionals.

Job description

Your key responsibilities will include:

• Managing the ongoing development and implementation of the Defra group internal communications strategy, which complements the overarching Defra group communications strategy.

• Ensuring internal communications activity is integrated with media, campaigns and stakeholder activity, shaping the way in which Defra group is talked about internally and presented to the outside world.

• Leading the development and implementation of internal communications support for major change programmes.

• Developing trusted relationships at the highest level across the Defra group, providing internal and change communications expertise, support and advice to the Permanent Secretary, senior group leaders and the Executive Committee as well as develop effective partnerships with the strategy and change team, HR and colleagues across the department.

• Overseeing the strategic development and continuous improvement of Defra group’s internal communications channels, products and messages, embracing the latest thinking and best practice.

• Challenging the team to use innovative, creative and appropriate techniques and tactics to and achieve our strategic objectives and ensure our organisational strategy is understood.

• Leading group-wide IC insight and evaluation – ensuring that Defra group leaders are provided with frequent actionable insight that helps to drive improvement in engagement and leading and managing change.

• Leading the embedding of the GCS IC Excellence programme throughout the team, including increasing capability.

• Managing the internal communications side of ‘incident’ communications as required.

• Providing active and visible senior leadership by playing a key role in the communications senior leadership team and working closely with colleagues from across the department.

• Pro-actively managing the team’s budget and driving forward efficiencies where possible.

• Playing a leadership role in GCS to support continuous improvement of the cross government internal communication profession.


The following experience is essential to this post and will be tested at sift and interview:

  • Significant, successful experience of leading high performing internal communications teams to deliver measurable business outcomes under pressure/changing priorities, and building their capability.
  • An inspiring, confident and empowering leader who is able to provide visible, strong leadership that can motivate, engage and get the best out of people.
  • Highly effective influencing and relationship-building skills at all levels (including senior officials/Ministers), as well as a highly-collaborative, team-playing approach.
  • The ability to work effectively across organisational boundaries at a senior level and having the confidence and credibility to challenge constructively to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Experience of delivering change, working alongside and through internal communications professionals, using a range of innovative communications channels and approaches.
  • A proven commitment to continual improvement through monitoring and evaluation.
  • Extensive, up-to-date, campaigns, strategic communications and events experience, preferably including organisational change experience.
  • Extensive experience in designing and delivering effective communications strategies and plans with significant experience of using insight to inform communications activity and leading the effective evaluation of communications campaigns.
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills.
  • Strong planning, organisational and people skills.


• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pensionTo view a full list of Defra benefits, please view the attached Candidate Information Pack.