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Dan Smith, head of employee communication and engagement at Govia Thameslink Railway Limited (GTR), received a Fellowship from IoIC in 2021. In this Q&A, he shares what it means to him to be a Fellow, and why pursuing an MBA – though difficult – was the right choice for him. 

What does it mean to you to be an IoIC Fellow?

Well, I’m still convinced the panel had a momentary lapse in judgement when it came to me, but what a lovely accolade! I’ve been involved with the IoIC for some time now, be it through award entries or mentoring, so it’s quite something to achieve Fellow status.

How long have you been in the industry, and why have you chosen to stay in the industry for that long?

I’ve worked in PR, marketing and communications for over 15 years, but my first dedicated internal communications job was a maternity cover at Homebase in 2010. Shortly after, Virgin Atlantic beckoned and I’ve been in the travel and transport sector ever since. I’ve stayed in the industry, as communicators are in a privileged position in most organisations; we are often one of the first to know about something, and we have a real chance to influence it before it is published or rolled out.

What has been your biggest achievement with regards to your professional development (outside of becoming a Fellow)?

I foolishly thought it would be wise to study an MBA part-time while working full-time. I’m a glutton for punishment, but the truth is I like learning about areas outside of my natural habitat or remit.

The best communicators are business savvy and understand how an organisation works – the MBA certainly helps me with that. My manager at GTR is very supportive of continuing professional development, so I’m quite fortunate to be in this position.

What does IoIC need to do to support IC professionals through the challenges of re-entering the workplace/hybrid working?

Unbiased advice or research is very useful – the IoIC is very good at this. I recently read a paper on LinkedIn that cited stats and data claiming workers want to get back into the office and hybrid working wouldn’t last – and then I realised the paper was authored by someone who had a vested interest in creative office spaces in city centres. I mean, come on…

Read our Q&As with our other recently appointed Fellows: Heather Armond and Zoe Shaughnessy


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