Chief Higher Education Consultant
Passionate about higher education, Justin has worked in the sector for more than 28 years. He came to Communications Management from the University of Hertfordshire’s Communications Department and initially set up an education practice before taking over the company and developing its vision as the leading consultancy for education and skills clients. He has worked across all areas of education and skills – including schools, business education, professional education, and higher education – and has worked on many cross-education campaigns. He initially started his career in journalism and was awarded Reporter of The Year for his investigate features.
Brand and marketing analysis
Michael has led marketing, communications and development in two UK universities before becoming a consultant specialising in brand and reputation in both education and private sectors. Michael was Executive Director (and a member of the University Executive Team) at Teesside University for 6 years where he led a team of 70 staff responsible for strategic marketing, branding, communications, student recruitment and fundraising.
Prior to Teesside, he was Director of Communications and Marketing at Durham University for 6 years. In his earlier career, Michael was Head of Communications for Reg Vardy plc, Europe’s leading motor retail group and also worked in several marketing, advertising and PR agencies.
Alongside his work for Communications Management, Michael is an adviser to the House of Lords, an adviser and global trustee to the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and has carried our consultancy projects for the University of Oxford, John Hopkins University (USA), and Dublin City University.
Hannah provides high level consultancy and guidance to clients in need of crisis communications support, drawing on her extensive experience in working at the highest levels of government and across the public and private sectors for the last 20 years. Hannah led communications at the Metropolitan Police Force for several years – where her experiences included crisis support for the London bombings of July 7 2005 and for the Madeleine McCann investigation. More recently she has worked with several universities and colleges to produce communications plans for their risk management procedures and advised on a range of individual reputation-threatening incidents.
Hannah brings her well-honed expertise in strategic thinking to help clients map a clear path to success. Her ability to consider the bigger picture and to challenge accepted wisdom enables her to gently encourage organisations to rethink their positioning and messaging; assess who they need to influence and plan a path to achieve maximum impact.
Public affairs, communications strategy and reputation counsel
Charles has a proven track record in Whitehall, business, schools and higher education sectors. Charles started his career as a journalist, followed by eight years in Whitehall media relations, including at the Department for Education (DfE) – working closely with ministers and senior officials across government.
From 2006 to 2012, he was the press office and policy lead across a broad sweep of schools, early years, child protection, family policy, including being the day-to-day manager of the central newsdesk, handling 6,000 media queries annually.
Charles was then Head of Corporate Communications at the University of Reading from 2013 to 2017, working for the Vice-Chancellor, the former DfE Permanent Secretary Sir David Bell. He established the first ever integrated communications operation at a 19,000 student institution – leading a multidisciplinary team covering public affairs, research public engagement, stakeholder management and business development; national and international public relations; staff and student engagement; community relations; and reputation management.
Jessica Shepherd (joining from September 23 2019)
Communications strategy, media relations and stakeholder engagement
Jessica was Education Correspondent of The Guardian for seven years and also worked as a reporter for the THE (Times Higher Education) before becoming Head of Communications (Education and Student Affairs) at UCL – where she lead UCL’s communications strategy for its education mission and established a regular podcast on themes of student experience and teaching innovations. A major project at UCL included the promotion of a new multi-million pound student centre.
More recently Jessica has worked in government communications at both the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Home Office. She has been a Senior Media Relations Manager at BEIS (the Government’s department that includes higher education and innovation) where she managed the press and PR team responsible for corporate affairs – and worked on the communications for issues affecting business performance and growth including the Industrial Strategy. She has since been working as Senior Digital and Media Manager at the Home Office – working with the Commission for Countering Extremism.
Jessica’s expertise covers: communications and PR strategy; digital communications; external affairs; media relations; stakeholder engagement; media training; crisis communications; and influencer communications. She worked in journalism for 12 years, with an initial role at the Birmingham Post.
Internal communications and intranet development
Lisa Pantelli focuses on providing clients with research and data-driven insights to help them to inform their engagement and internal communications strategy. Drawing on a wide-ranging experience as Head of Weber Shandwick’s UK Employee Engagement & Change Management practice, Lisa now works with clients across the globe to develop and implement strategic programmes designed to engage employees, promote advocacy within organisations and help navigate leaders through times of change. She has provided counsel to clients across a number of sectors including healthcare, energy, financial services, education and not-for-profit.
She is part of the Engage4Success Guru Group and has provided consultative advice to the Government’s Review of NHS Staff Engagement. Clients have included the University of Central Lancashire, the LEGO Foundation, Roffey Park and Pearson.
She works on the basis that too often the focus is on the tactical implementation of what leaders think that their employees want or are feeling, rather than actually looking at their drivers and what matters to them on a daily basis. Her aim is to be able to provide consultancy to bridge the gap between communications and organisational performance.
A University of Oxford Modern Languages graduate, Vicky has 20 years’ experience in the UK HE sector, starting off in Wales, then moving to Scotland before settling in southern England in 2000.Internationalisation has been a constant thread in all her roles which have ranged from establishing an International Office from scratch to leading an 80-person Marketing & Communications Directorate at Bournemouth University. She has 13 years’ experience operating at University Leadership Team level and leading organisation-wide initiatives, including development of institutional marketing and internationalisation strategies.
Over the years, Vicky has had management responsibility for international student recruitment, partnerships and exchanges; international admissions and student support; market research, strategic and relationship marketing; branding, marketing communications and publications; corporate communications, PR and media relations; digital communications; internal communications; UK student recruitment and outreach; alumni relations and development.
Marketwise Strategies provides market and wider insights, helping leaders of education and knowledge-based organisations to: de-risk new projects and initiatives, assess markets and competitors, deepen their stakeholder relationships and create more responsive organisations, able to navigate a rapidly-changing, external environment. This partner company works with universities, colleges, ‘alternative providers’ of HE and many of the UK’s best known ‘knowledge’ organisations – from professional bodies to government-funded agencies. In the wider education sector, Marketwise Strategies researches markets, competitors and stakeholders, for clients from edutech start-ups to FTSE 100 companies. Led by former marketing research and strategy academic and HE business development specialist Jacquie Potts, and by experienced researcher and consultant Dr John Gibson, Marketwise Strategies brings a rich understanding of the HE sector, its cultures, structures and challenges.
In the UK and internationally, it has helped universities to assess markets for: executive learning; professional programmes: online learning; degree apprenticeships; foundation years; new campus developments; widening participation; and a wide range of academic programmes. Marketwise Strategies also advises HE institutions and FE colleges upon ways of developing, disseminating and leveraging external and internal insights, to drive strategic change.
PR and lobbying campaigns
Ian has 16 years’ experience in agency and in-house public relations campaigns. In the past, he has managed a number of campaigns for Universities UK, including lobbying to remove international students from the net migration target and working with Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert to prevent a drop in university applications, following an increase in fees in 2012. Ian is a former press officer and has experience in advising on communication strategies, including on a social mobility report for the UK government in 2016 at the request of the Prime Minister. Most recently, Ian has worked with the University of Reading offering PR, public affairs and other communications consultancy on a major new project for the university, and with Power to Change on its annual national campaign Community Business Weekend. He is an expert in campaign planning and delivery, stakeholder management, social media, media relations and large-scale events (most notably at the Natural History Museum for Universities Week, which attracted c. 28,000 people in 2014).
Employee and student engagement – and crisis communications
Sarah has more than 18 years’ experience as a communicator, the majority within higher education balancing the complex cultures of universities with the growing need to thrive in a competitive environment. Sarah has developed strategies to engage employees and students in major change programmes and in the future direction of universities. By coaching executive teams and delivering campus-wide campaigns, Sarah creates the space in which students and employees can ‘speak’ and leaders can ‘listen’, involving everyone in the conversation to build a successful institution.
With her experience of leading successful communications teams at the universities of Surrey and Portsmouth, Sarah can review and improve communication functions – researching audience preferences and creating the strategies and policies needed to engage staff and students effectively. She has recruited new teams and developed existing skills to deliver what the audience needs. Having led communication during some major crises, including a large-scale campus vaccination programme, Sarah can advise on the skills, strategies and guidance needed to create a confident communication team.
What makes people tick is a fascination for Sarah. She is passionate that good communication can improve the employee and student experience and create exceptional ambassadors. It’s also why she is studying to become a counsellor – a skillset that supports her desire to make sure people are informed, involved and listened to, in life and at work.
Social media and digital communications
Chris has more than 20 years’ communications experience spanning PR and social media, helping organisations amplify their stories to targeted audiences worldwide. Specialising in social media for the last few years, he has developed and implemented creative social media strategies and campaigns for a broad range of clients across the education sector and beyond, advising on paid, earned and owned social media. Away from the education sector, notable clients include LinkedIn, Arup, Virgin Media Business, Starwood Hotels (now Marriot), Eurostar and TfL.
He is the author of several social media ‘best practice’ guides for one of the best-known social media monitoring tools, and regularly runs digital transformation programmes for organisations which trying to dovetail their social, PR, and marketing and comms teams. He’s also a reputation-management and crisis communications expert, working with a broad range of customer-facing businesses including airports, international hotel chains and rail companies to provide training, support and crisis communications consultancy.
Alumni engagement and community consultation
Paul was Head of PR and Alumni Relations at Edge Hill University following an earlier career in the COI (the government office for communications) and during that time managed the University’s expanding alumni relations programme at a crucial time in the institution’s history.
Since leaving Edge Hill, Paul has worked with a range of universities – either as an interim member of marketing and communications (with such roles at Lancaster University and Manchester Metropolitan University) or as a consultant (for example with Salford University and with the University of Chester). He is currently working on a range of communications programmes for clients in education and in the property sector.
With more than 20 years’ experience in some of the most challenging consultation and engagement arenas, Rachel brings a wealth of knowledge to bear for our clients when going through the planning process. Rachel provides strategic advice to local authorities and educational institutions nationwide on their public consultation strategies building strong and enduring alliances based on open and respectful engagement. She brings a rare blend of media relations, community consultation, public affairs and marketing communications skills coupled with teaching experience which can be invaluable in engaging with students and pupils.
Recently she has supported a number of colleges looking to rationalise their property portfolio or realise assets by engaging with the full range of audiences from ward councillors and community groups to lecturers and the students themselves giving them a role in helping to shape their learning environment. Her experience in managing contentious applications and the public furore around them is unmatched and she has handled major developments in greenbelt, football stadia on public parks and even directed communications around potential fracking sites, the most combative consultation environment in the UK today.