Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’m Rhian, a second-year communications Fast Streamer. I got my PhD in Medieval History from the University of York and then moved to Japan to teach English for two years. After that, I organised outreach events at Lancaster University before joining the Communications Fast Stream. So far, I have completed placements at the Health and Safety Executive in Bootle and Public Health England in London.
Q: Where is your current posting and please outline your responsibilities?
A: My current posting is at the Home Office, where I am part of the Marketing Team. My main responsibilities include working on the Fire Kills campaign to encourage people to test their smoke alarms and supporting the Police recruitment campaign.
Q: What excites you the most about your current role?
A: It seems like something exciting happens every day, but currently I am really excited whenever I hear the Fire Kills advert on the radio as I was in the recording studio when it was made!
Q: What are the key skills you have developed working on the Fast Stream programme?
A: My post-graduate studies had already developed my ability to manage my time and meet deadlines on a large project, but the Fast Stream has really helped me with developing this to manage the time of others and meet group deadlines. On the communication side, I have gained a range of skills, including data analysis, responding to press enquiries and managing relations with media agencies.
Q: What has been your biggest personal achievement since you joined the Fast Stream?
A: I’ve had so many opportunities to achieve different things that it is hard to choose, but I think I will go with managing media on a high-profile case for the Health and Safety Executive. I worked with the inspector on the case to produce a press release and ensure that it was covered in a range of media, including the Times Educational Supplement. It was also really rewarding as I learnt a lot about making sure the inspector felt confident and protected by my involvement – I was able to ensure that they knew what they needed to do in interviews and wouldn’t be caught off-guard by journalists!
Q: What are the key challenges involved in your current role?
A: I had to learn a lot about the specific discipline of marketing very quickly. At first I found this a little daunting but found that it was all so interesting that I was enthusiastic to learn more and could meet the speed needed. The team were also great at giving me real work to do straightaway, but supporting me when needed, so I never felt too overwhelmed.
Q: How would you describe the work culture within your department?
A: The work culture is really friendly in my team – people are keen to help out but also to give you the chance to learn about their area of work and join in.
Q: What kind of support have you received from your team members and manager to effectively deliver your role?
A: My manager is really supportive and has made sure that I get the chance to develop skills that I am interested in building on. It’s great to know that there is always someone I can go to if I am a bit unsure about anything as either my manager or my team are more than willing to support me in delivering my objectives.
Q: What learning and development opportunities have you gained after joining the Fast Stream?
A: I’ve been able to take a range of learning and development opportunities since joining the Fast Stream. Some of these have been general learning, such as management skills and teamwork, but I have also been lucky to experience a range of communications-specific training days on topics such as internal communications and communicating locally. There are also lots of great opportunities to learn informally by shadowing and supporting colleagues with their work.
Q: How have you benefited from different postings as part of the Fast Stream programme?
A: I’ve been really lucky to have such varied placements. My experience at the Health and Safety Executive in Bootle gave me a chance to see how government communications work outside of central government and to work in a team outside of London. I got to work on a Brexit campaign, which was a really interesting challenge and became more confident answering press enquiries. At Public Health England, I gained a much greater knowledge of how data and insight can be used to produce better campaigns and understand how effective they are. Currently, I’m learning how to work with media agencies and getting a taste of central government. I can’t wait to find out what’s coming next!
Visit www.faststream.gov.uk for more information on the Fast Stream.