A question of comms: Justine Stevenson

Today Justine Stevenson, Head of Group Internal Communication at London Stock Exchange Group is in the hot seat on my blog.

She’s here to tell us the importance of curiosity and why you need to listen more than you talk.

Justine answered these questions one week into her role, I’ll hand you over to her…

1. When did you know internal communication was what you wanted to do?
I always knew I wanted to work in some form of communication – my mum always said I was born to talk for a living – but it was while I was at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that I was first exposed to the world of IC.

I was part of a small team setting up a new internal communication function and as I learned more about what that meant and what we were trying to achieve, it just made perfect sense to me. That was about 15 years ago.

2. What do you like most about working in this field?
The people. I like that I am able to make people’s working life just a little bit more navigable and to make just a little more sense.

Last year, in a different company, I led the IC during a major acquisition for a group of colleagues who were likely to be made redundant.

I was able to help them understand more about the process and what was happening but, crucially, I was able to represent their views and concerns back to the Executive Committee so that they could communicate in the most effective way possible.

3. What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
To stay curious. In IC we are in a position to legitimately poke about and ask questions – if we aren’t interested in what is happening in our workplace then why would anyone else be?

4. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a career in comms?
To listen more than you talk (I have to curb my natural inclination!) and get a mentor. There are loads of great people out there who have been there and done it and will happily share their experiences.

5. What does a typical day or working week look like for you?
There aren’t many typical days or weeks. But most include a lot of coffee – chats over coffee often get lots of work done; a lot of listening and quite a lot of explaining why just putting it on the intranet is unlikely to get the result you want!

6. Name a book you think every communicator should read, and why you’ve chosen it
Making the Connections by Bill Quirke. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

Understanding how organisations work and how to navigate them is vital for IC practitioners and this book taught me a lot in how to do that.

7. What’s the one thing you couldn’t do your job without?
My network. I’ve spent 15 years in the field but it changes so fast and there is so much change that it’s impossible to know everything. I have built up a network over the years and regularly ring them up to get an opinion.

I’m also on the Board of the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC), which is an invaluable source of good ideas and good people.

Further reading: Get your hard work recognised via the IoIC Awards.

8. What is the future of internal communication?
That’s a tricky one – but I hope it will see increasing engagement, more dialogue rather than ‘broadcast’ comms. This of course will be helped by new technology but also by the demands of people to have their say (and not just in the annual employee survey!!!)

9. Where can people find you online?

On Twitter @jusstevenson and LinkedIn.

Post author: Justine Stevenson.

Thank you Justine.

Discover who else has sat in the hot seat so far:

  • A question of commsRachel Miller, Director, All Things IC
  • A question of commsLou Robinson, Global Internal Comms Lead, Costa
  • A question of commsSara Luker, EMEA Content Manager, eBay
  • A question of commsGary Vyse, PR & Engagement Lead at Alternative Futures Group
  • A question of comms: Helen Deverell, Director, Helen Deverell Communications
  • A question of comms:  Katy Gibbins, Head of Internal Communications and Engagement, Department for Culture Media and Sport
  • A question of comms: Shona Sullivan, Communications and Engagement Executive, Capita BBC Audience Services
  • A question of commsKeith Lewis, UK Social Business and Channels Manager for Zurich Insurance
  • A question of commsKerry Sheehan, Head of Communications at North East London NHS Foundation Trust
  • A question of comms: Steven Murgatroyd, Communications and Engagement at River Island.

Learn more about internal communication

There are a handful of spaces left on my upcoming Strategic Internal Comms Masterclass on 23 March in London.

If you’re a senior-level practitioner and would like to boost your skills, have a confidential place to air problems and learn alongside peers, this is the course for you.

Save your place via my Masterclasses website.

Nonprofit organisations can save 20% using the code NFP20.

First published on the All Things IC blog 9 March 2017.

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