The “Meet our Coaches” series profiles Kademy’s network of communications leadership coaches, providing an insight into who they are, their professional experience, and their perspective on the future of communications.

In this post, we talk to experienced communications director Julia Hart. With nearly 30 years’ experience in communications leadership positions in large, complex, and fast-moving international environments, Julia’s experience ranges from advising the C-suite, handling crises and issues, leading in internal and change projects, and building award-winning communications teams.

How did you first get into Communication?

I started my career as a journalist in the UK, where I worked in the newsroom of a large regional newspaper group. At the time, my father was a leader in an insurance company and we often talked at home about the impact that the skills of a journalist could have in engaging employees – this was at the time when the internal communications discipline was just beginning. When I moved to the Netherlands and had the opportunity to join the communications function at Philips, I jumped at the chance and never looked back!

What’s your proudest moment from being an in-house comms leader?

I have had the enormous privilege of leading some amazing people and teams. There are several moments I can think of, at different companies, when teams I was working with went above and beyond to provide really high-impact communications; things other people in the company had doubted were possible. The rush of a job well done and being able to make a critical contribution to the business’ performance is the best feeling.

…and just for balance, what was a moment you’d rather forget?

I once went straight from hospital after being discharged for having my appendix removed to a filming session with the new CEO. I thought I’d be able to deliver, but I couldn’t focus and do a good job when I was feeling so awful. It was an important lesson to take care of myself first if I want to be able to perform well professionally.

What do you enjoy about being a coach for comms pros?

Firstly, the great people I get to meet! It’s also wonderful to witness the moment when a client who was struggling to work out what to do next sees a way forward and is able to take action and deliver great things. I love being able to support communicators with their personal development and career journeys in this way.

What do you think will be the top challenges for comms leaders over the next few years?

Workloads are increasing and the speed of operations are continuing to rise. The role of the communications professional is changing and we are becoming facilitators of internal and external dialogues rather than the disseminators of messaging. We have to let go of a bit of control internally, allowing leaders and others in the company to communicate more themselves according to a set of guidelines and templates. This will help comms leaders keep up the pace and focus on those things that are mission critical.

And finally, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give now or wish someone had given you as a leader?

As a communications professional, you have to speak the same language as the business – operations, finance, and strategy. If you can’t explain how what you’re doing is supporting business goals, you won’t get C-suite buy-in. Consume the same financial and business media as leadership and ensure you get the training you need to fully develop as an effective (business) strategic advisor.

Julia Hart is an accredited professional coach, who also has more than 27 years’ experience working as a communications leader at large international companies. She’s passionate about empowering people to achieve greater success in the workplace and supporting communications professionals in delivering tangible business value.

Kademy members get access to our team of expert coaches, who all have extensive practical experience as senior-level communication professionals. Get in touch to find out more.