Rail - Head of External Relations in Stratford, London, United Kingdom

Purpose of the Job

Lead the External Affairs team and deliver the external communications strategy for our client.

Principal Accountabilities

  • Lead the Media (including Digital), Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement (including Community Relations) teams.
  • Provide strategic communications advice to the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Chief Executive, Executive and other Directors in order to protect and enhance our reputation.
  • Deliver a coherent external affairs strategy to rebuild stakeholder trust and restore the project's reputation
  • Lead on all aspects of external reputation management for the project, including our crisis communications strategy.
  • Ensure alignment with our client's internal communications activity and strategy.
  • Report delivery of the strategy to the Executive Group and Board as appropriate.
  • Manage the budget for the External Affairs team.
  • Lead the liaison between the project and its Sponsors, DfT and Transport for London on matters relating to communications and reputation management - as well as other key partner organisations, such as Network Rail, contractors, Corporation of London and others.
  • Ensure relationships with key political stakeholders - e.g. including the Secretary of State for Transport, Mayor's Office, Number 10, HM Treasury, APPG, Transport Select Committee, route MPs and the London Assembly are maintained and strengthened.
  • Provide specialist advice and guidance to staff at all levels on all aspects of external communications activity with an emphasis on sharing best practice.
  • Control the management of the corporate identify and application of our brand.
  • Chair a Communications Steering Group and attend the TfL-run Elizabeth line Communications Board; attend other Sponsor related working groups, committees etc. as appropriate.
  • Take reasonable care of your own and others' health and safety and of those who may be affected in the day-to-day delivery of this role by taking personal responsibility for working to the Target Zero principles.
  • Co-operate in all matters relating to health and safety, including following safe working procedures at all times.
  • Act as a role model for our client's vision and values, behaving in ways that are in alignment with our Ways of Working. Encourage and support others to do so too.
  • Promote equality in the workplace and adopt appropriate behaviour when interacting with colleagues.
  • Take necessary care to properly protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of corporate information from unauthorised disclosure, modification or destruction. Never knowingly put our client's information or information systems at risk.

Main challenges of the job

  • Understanding and handling the competing, and sometimes conflict needs of multiple stakeholders.
  • Understanding and adeptly dealing with commercial and politically sensitive issues.
  • Leading on strategic communications in a large complex project environment.

Dimensions & Interfaces (both internal and external)

  • The Head of External Relations will ensure the development and implementation of external communications messages are consistently applied across the organisation.
  • The Head of External Relations has responsibility for the department's budget.
  • The Head of External Relations has responsibility for recruitment and staffing matters within the team and liaison with HR.
  • Chairman, Chief Executive, Chief of Staff, Executive Group and other Directors.
  • Transport for London - Customers, communication and technology department.
  • Department for Transport - DfT press office and DfT dedicated team
  • Mayor of London's office / Greater London Authority
  • Our partners (e.g. Network Rail, Corporation of London, Canary Wharf Group)

Person Specification

  • Extensive and high-level communications and external relations experience. Good working knowledge and experience of public relations including media relations and new media.
  • Experience of strategic communications issues and providing communications advice at Chairman and Chief Executive level.
  • Highly-developed interpersonal, communications and negotiating skills. Ability to build and maintain effective long-term working relationships with high profile and key stakeholders including elected representatives.
  • Strong strategic and people management skills including ability to establish individual and departmental priorities, objectives and targets and motivate others to achieve.
  • Experience of leading and managing change in a complex organisational and political context.
  • Ability to handle complex political and public relations issues, including crisis management.
  • Highly developed awareness of political issues and sensitivities concerning the project.
  • Ability to explain and promote the project and its objectives to a wide-ranging audience including stakeholders and elected representatives.
  • Knowledge of rail and transport industry an advantage.

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