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AN INTERVIEW WITH DREW MCMILLAN – HEAD OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS & INNOVATION FOR VIRGIN TRAINS

Posted: 14/12/2016

Here at FS1 we’re delighted to have had the chance to interview Drew McMillan, Head of Internal Communications and Innovation at Virgin Trains. Drew is one of a selected group of speakers at next year’s 5th Annual Internal Communications Conference, hosted by BOC, from 22nd – 24th March 2017 in London. Ahead of Drew’s appearance at the conference, we wanted to find out more about what makes him tick:

  1. What is it about internal communications that you are most passionate about?

It’s an enabler of organisational performance, and I get a big kick out of that. I guess I’m quite a competitive person, and I like to be part of high performing teams. Effective communication leads to increased engagement, and has a proven impact on the bottom line. 

  1. What’s your opinion on the state of internal communications in the UK? Is it properly established in UK based organisations, or could more be done?

I’m not delighted by the state of the IC profession – there are islands of sheer brilliance in a sea of mediocrity. Time and again, I meet practitioners who seem to be churning out the same old stuff rather than adapting their approach to meet evolving business and cultural needs. On top of this, there’s a woeful lack of meaningful measurement and analysis. And, at worst, a failure to directly link IC strategy to organisational strategy.  If that’s the case, why on earth should IC ever be taken seriously?

  1. What is the one important piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in internal communications?

If you want to learn about every single aspect of an organisation and what it does, then IC is a great place to work. You’ll have unparalleled access to people and ideas, if you’re willing to make the connections and get under the skin of your organisation. It can be hugely rewarding. But if you think it’s all about glossy magazines and shiny events, you’re probably better taking a job in a media production agency.

  1. What challenges face the internal communications sector in 2017?

The world – and what people expect as creators and consumers of information – is moving really fast now. We need to keep ahead as IC practitioners. It’s not good enough to grasp hold of the old models, whereby IC teams “owned” communication and controlled the channels. Let’s embrace the exciting new world of user generated content, peer-to-peer moderation, digital curation and agile development of solutions.

  1. How do you think these issues can be overcome in 2017?

I spend a lot of my time reaching out to geeks in the technology, science and entrepreneurial fields. There’s so much to learn by what they are doing! But I don’t collect ideas for the sake of it. I’m looking for stuff that has the potential for a practical application to IC and engagement. That’s how IC practitioners can stay ahead of the curve: exploring what’s out there beyond our profession.

As exhibitors at the conference, we’re certainly looking forward to hearing more of what Drew has to say at the conference! For more information, including registration details, contact Carmen on 01908 787560 or carmen@fs1recruitment.com.

Event website: http://boc-uk.com/conferences/internal-communications-conference/