It’s World Women’s Day today. So I pulled together a list of some of the many women who have inspired me in my 25 year comms journey so far.
by Darren Caveney
I do love a list. Favourite song, favourite movie, favourite meal. Course, the problem is you always miss someone or something off and cause a potential to cause a faux pas.
But that shouldn’t stop us from creating lists. Lists are good. They make us reflect. And we know that a little reflection in our lives is a good thing.
And so to mark World Women’s Day I wanted to pull together an A-Z of some of the women who have inspired me during my career.
Of course, there are many more than the women named here who have inspired me. If I missed you off, I’m sorry.
So, here goes.
I salute you all – thank you for the brilliant things you have done. And for the what comes next too.
A Amanda Coleman. Award-winning former head of comms at Greater Manchester Police. Amanda has become the go-to person for crisis comms in the public sector. Got the T-shirt, wrote the book. I would love to work with her one day.
B Holly Bremner Head of comms at Rutland, Holly is smart, experienced and strategic. Loves a laugh and a social and once took me to a closed down curry house in Leicester. It’s a long story.
C Carol Caveney Although we separated a couple of years ago we remain very good pals. Carol was fundamental to the start-up and growth of comms2point0 10 years ago. Quite simply it wouldn’t be the thing it is today with her skills, foresight and dedication. Thank you x
D Dawn Reeves I’ve only got to know Dawn in recent years but what a brilliant person to know and collaborate with. The creative force behind the One Story for local government book, I love Dawn’s approach to work – have a great idea, bring it to life, then worry about how to make it work. We can learn from this creative approach as comms people. Not everything has to be based on insights.
E Eleri Roberts and Emma Rodgers. I’m cheating here and choosing two. Eleri might just have the biggest job in local gov comms. And Emma has one of the trickiest. I’ve been fortunate to work with them both. Never afraid of speaking out and making the big calls. They are two of the best comms leaders in UK public sector today.
F Fran Collingham Ex director of comms at Coventry City Council and now successful consultant, Fran is one of the very best in the country. If I were pulling together a comms dream team she would be my first name on the list. I always learn lots from working with her.
G Anne Gregory PR royalty. Anne was my course head on the PR degree course I did back in the 90s. That course turned my life around from aimless drifting to an actual career. Anne was very inspirational then as she is now. Thank you.
H Harriet Small Okot I first met Harriet at Comms Unplugged 2018 and have watched her career sparkle ever since. Harriet treats everything she does with great thought and intelligence. I love that she is always experimenting and creating new content and products.
I Internal comms and wordsmith extraordinaire Caroline Roodhouse does brilliant work for the agency, Alive with Ideas. Caroline never fails to deliver eye-catching, creative work which really stands out in a noisy old world.
J Jude Tipper No list of inspiring women in comms would be complete without Jude Tipper. Creative, funny, savvy and a multiple UnAward winner. Jude’s powerful writing and thoughtful opinions have provided leadership in our industry on topics many shy away from. Now doing brilliant things with NHS Digital. Who wouldn’t want to work with or for Jude.
K Kathy Kyle Kathy is one busy woman who delivers so, so much. I first met Kathy when presenting her with the UnAward for best agency. Now she is leading the comms fightback on behalf of our High Streets for DigiKind, amongst many other things.
L Louisa Dean Louisa has delivered pretty much everything in her time – from Royal Wedding comms to launching a new website. Rock solid, smart, enthusiastic and never stops trying. Local government is lucky to have her in it.
M Kat Marshall Lashings of determination, hard graft and resilience despite a wall of things which have gone against her have both impressed and inspired me. Whenever I have felt like complaining during Covid I have thought of Kat and her dignified approach to overcoming obstacles. A talented writer, speaker and practitioner. I’m proud to now call her a pal.
N Ali Neyle A smart and savvy comms pro whose career will go to the very top. Ali delivered great work with the Local Government Association and the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Now a managing consultant at Stonehaven. A poor choice of cricket team but you can’t have everything!
O Julie Odams I’ve had the great pleasure of watching Julie’s career grow from internal comms at Staffordshire County Council, through to head of comms at Staffordshire University and now to assistant director of comms and customers at Derbyshire County Council. I believed she was shoe-in to go to the top of the ladder the first time I met her. A credit to local government. And a lover of the Ford Capri.
P Lisa Potter Lisa is a complete comms pro and the standout qualities for me are her support and enthusiasm for new ideas and new ventures. Flies a flag for excellence in the Scottish comms scene with her style and intelligence.
Q The Queens of Loch Lomond, Anna MacLean and Joanne Ford. Two lovelier people you won’t meet in our industry. I’ll always treasure my guided tour around the Loch with them on an April day with every weather you could imagine. They also do brilliant, award-winning work.
R Helena Rafala I met Helena through Comms Unplugged and have followed her work closely since. She delivers brilliant creative work for Transport for Greater Manchester. Everything Helena does she does with great flair. Someone you would always want on your team. Loves a good bottle of red too, don’t we all.
S Shavaun Glen I met Shavaun properly only in 2020 and have had the chance to listen to her thoughts and ideas most weeks during the weekly consultants Zoom group chat I set up in Lockdown 1. Shavaun has great experience in comms and real insights on the latest issues and trends. I always feel like I learn something new when she speaks.
T Teela Clayton Teela was new to my world in 2020, writing a series of brilliant opinion pieces for comms2point0.co.uk and gaining an UnAwards shortlisting in the process. What I love most about Teela is her personality which leaps out of her outputs. And the way in which she cuts through fluff and nails the real problems and solutions. Important skills for our industry now more than ever.
U Unpluggers everywhere. Meeting the women of Comms Unplugged, in a beautiful field in Dorset, has been one of the best experiences of my career. There have been so many inspiring women in that field – too many to mention here – but originals Emma Northcote, Jill Spurr, Josephine Graham, Charlotte Parker and Saranne Postans have been inspiring me since 2017 and need a shout-out.
V Victoria Ford I first met Victoria when she was the talented head of comms at the DVLA. I managed to get her to come and talk about her campaign work at an early comms2point0 event and have watched her career blossom ever since. Always strategic, Victoria has flown a flag for internal comms throughout her career and led on the IC Space resource. It’s now lovely to see her venture, Perago-Wales, grow into a meaty business delivering positive change in the Welsh public sector.
W Women Thank you to all of the other talented women who I have learned from in my career. Happy International Women’s Day to you all
X Xtra special love to Dorset’s Dream Duo, Sally Northeast and Georgia Turner. The force behind the brilliant Comms Unplugged and two highly talented senior comms leaders. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t trust them to nail. Creative, fun, full of nous and loyal all day long. Like two sisters to me. Thank you for all your support and wise counsel.
Y Why did you miss me out? I know. I’m sorry. But choosing 26+ women for this list was like trying to choose my top 10 films of all time. I always end up with 50!
Z – Generation Z expert Rebecca Roberts and skilled marketing and communications consultant, Rebecca is pulling up trees with her business. I’ve learned lots about how to engage with young people during our workshops together and she’s great fun to work with. Now a podcast star too, with Harriet Small Okot, showing how to launch a brand new product into a crowded market.
Thanks to you all and I hope you’re all able to reflect on your achievements and celebrate them this International Women’s Day.
Darren Caveney is the creator of comms2point0 and owner of specialist consultancy Creative Communicators Ltd
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