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Saskia Jones (1980-2020) had a “dazzling array of talents” and a “legendary laugh” and was a “phenomenal mentor” too. Here, her friend and colleague, Heather Beresford, pays tribute to a wonderful communicator who will be deeply missed.


Saskia Jones was an incredibly exciting person to work with.

She completely transformed internal comms at Oxfam. We used to get so excited about work and end up crying with laughter too. She’d be out there shaking things up at leadership level, while quietly nurturing her team in the background, as our colleague, Lauren Mack Janus, says: “What made her truly phenomenal was her commitment to mentorship. She was always going to succeed, but she was also going to bring her team with her.”


Loyal, high energy and bags of integrity

Heartfelt tributes have poured in from Oxfam colleagues, with many people mentioning her infectious laugh.

Sally Otter says: “Saskia was super-smart, driven, loyal, high-energy and compassionate, and with bags of integrity. She also had the most distinctive laugh. I’m so grateful for the wisdom and support she gave me. I know she will live on in many hearts.”

As Oxfam’s head of internal communications, Saskia was responsible for bringing together 5,000 staff in more than 50 countries, working across numerous languages and cultures. Having convinced the leadership team to move from “cascade to conversation”, she set about creating conversations on a global scale. Suitable digital tools were thin on the ground at the time, especially on a tiny budget, but this didn’t stop Saskia.

Persuading an innovation agency to build a range of affordable platforms, she soon had thousands of people worldwide involved in meaningful debates, leadership Q&As and competitions. Her pioneering platforms helped create an open, democratic communications culture at Oxfam. They won awards too. Saskia also negotiated major change programmes with visionary leadership.


Energy, enthusiasm and creativity

Mark Goldring was Oxfam CEO at the time: “Saskia worked with such energy, enthusiasm and creativity that she made even the driest of corporate messages engaging. Her laugh was legendary; it preceded her into every room. But part of her secret was that she listened, reflected and learnt with just as much enthusiasm as she spoke or wrote. And she was as organised as she was inspired. For a chief executive, this rare combination of sensitivity and top-class skills truly brought you closer to the people you needed to communicate with.”

In her most recent role at Oxfam, Saskia was head of communications engagement, working for Jack Lundie: “Saskia had a dazzling array of talents. Her charisma, passion, professionalism and attention to detail were extraordinarily valuable to our cause. Keeping teams across the world engaged during difficult transition helped continuity in the fight against poverty and inequality. She understood audiences of every type, but, more than that, she brought people towards her with reassurance, charm and clarity. Off duty, her laugh was as unforgettable as the gifts she gave with unstinting selflessness. I feel so privileged to have worked alongside her.” 

It’s not surprising Saskia won awards. She won IoIC’s Internal Communicator of the Year and was highly commended for the Clare Latham award at the CIPR Inside Awards. 
 


Saskia Jones received the Internal Communicator of the Year Award from IoIC President Suzanne Peck in 2014


Enthusiasm, positivity and great ideas

Most recently, Saskia worked as a communications consultant and coach and was growing her business. 

Former IoIC chairman Nick Andrews nominated Saskia for election to the IoIC board in 2019. “I knew from personal experience that her enthusiasm, positivity and great ideas would have been a real asset. She was thrilled to be elected, but sadly she didn’t get the chance to carry out her role. Her passing is a huge loss to our industry; she was one of a kind and will be missed by everyone who worked with her.”

IoIC president Suzanne Peck adds: “Saskia was extremely talented and generous with her time, with sharing her knowledge and in encouraging others to be the best they could be. She had just joined the IoIC board and we’ll miss the opportunity of working with someone who had so much to give and who was such a well respected and well loved star in our industry.”

Saskia passed away in January this year after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind her husband, Marc, and son, Jasper. This wonderful woman will be deeply missed by so many.

 

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