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Head of internal communications at the British Heart Foundation Zoe Shaughnessy achieved a professional milestone when she became a Fellow in 2021. In this interview, she discusses why becoming a Fellow is so important to her, and why she chose a career in internal comms.

Why did you choose to pursue becoming a Fellow, and how did it feel when you found out you had been successful?

I’ve been interested in the concept of being a Fellow for a long time now. In 2020, having been in IC for over 15 years, it felt like a natural progression to explore, so I decided to apply. It was a much welcome surprise to find out this year that I had been successful – becoming a Fellow is so special to me. 

I think it’s important for the profession that people who have extensive knowledge and skills sets in the industry share that information with others.


What led you to a career in internal comms, and why have you chosen to stay in the profession?

I’ve had a bit of a squiggly path to IC to be honest! I got my degree in English Literature and Linguistics. After graduating I worked in a number of creative roles including advertising, PR, and corporate comms. Throughout all of them, there was a golden thread I really enjoyed that I recognised as internal comms, so I decided to focus on the elements I loved and move into an IC-dedicated role.

People say this often, but things always feel fresh in IC – no two days are the same. As a career choice, it has evolved over the years, and it’s only growing in importance. I like the variety and I like having the chance to speak to so many people and help them share their stories, something that is especially prominent in the large organisations I’ve worked for.


Outside of receiving a Fellowship, what has your biggest achievement been regarding your professional development?

Becoming head of IC at the British Heart Foundation was a real professional milestone for me. The career growth it symbolised and the opportunities it afforded me were great.

I get to work with amazing people in an organisation that brings purpose, among many other things, to so many people.


Why is a commitment to continuous personal development so important?

I think personal development is a lifelong process, and it’s one that also helps to evolve professions as well. At BHF, one of our values centres on being informed, and it’s underpinned by a behaviour of curiosity and always asking questions, which is how I am as a person as well.

Colleagues are aware of the media landscape externally, and so that should be reflected internally where possible, to show your organisation is constantly evolving and progressing. By capturing insights from your audience, taking learnings from social and external media and across disciplines, it’s easier to keep things interesting and get important information on people’s radars. If you’re not open to exploring, learning and trying new things, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities.

Read our Q&As with our other recently appointed Fellows: Dan Smith and Heather Armond.


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