Throughout the last 20 years – around half spent in consulting and half on in-house communication roles – I have worked for some of the world’s leading professional services organisations (Accenture, KPMG and PwC) and with a wide range of clients in the public and private sectors. I’ve built and led communication and strategy teams and delivered significant change, including working at board-level.
I started this business in 2015, after I left my senior role at PwC, following my breakdown.
My breakdown had a number of causes, but undoubtedly one was the role work and workplace culture played. I am currently writing a book on the subject, drawing on my own mental health lived experience and my 20+ years of working with organisations across the public, private and third sectors, and most recently in academia.
Now, I work as the Head of Communications at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) but my passion is mental health and the workplace work-life balance and helping people and teams build resilience and healthier working practices.
In September 2020, I start a part-time masters in counselling and psychotherapy at LJMU. If all goes to plan, I will qualify as an accredited therapist after two years
This will become my full-time work: helping people and their organisations to find the right work-life balance, resilience and techniques for them, so that they can thrive at work and throughout their lives.
I live on Merseyside with my amazing wife and incredible daughter. I am a huge news, current affairs, politics and sports (especially LFC and Red Sox) fan and play golf in Southport.
Since the start of my breakdown at the end of 2014, I have become deeply committed to the issue of mental health and the workplace, exploring and developing ideas related to work-life balance, workplace culture and how teams and organisations can help their colleagues and team members not just survive, but thrive at work. My breakdown had a number of causes, but undoubtedly one was the role work and workplace culture played. I am currently writing a book on the subject, drawing on my own mental health lived experience and my 20+ years of working with organisations across the public, private and third sectors, and most recently in academia.
As well as my Head of Communications role at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), I lecture in resilience, mental health and work-life balance and am playing a leading role with our HR and student support teams in developing a health and wellbeing strategy for staff and students and a range of resources to help them both as they work and study. The coronavirus virus has made this work even more important. I also mentor and informally coach and support a number of staff and students – as well as other former colleagues. In September, I start a part-time masters in counselling and psychotherapy at LJMU. If all goes to plan, I will qualify as an accredited therapist after two years.
This is now my main focus and will become my full-time work over the next two years or so: helping people and their organisations to find the right work-life balance, resilience and techniques for them, so that they can thrive at work and throughout their lives. I want to bring my lived and management experience, understanding of these issues, strong communication skills and my passion to help others.
In 2015, I set up AMJ Comms – naming the company after my daughter – ‘AMJ’ are her initials. It is a reminder, if one were needed, of what is important in life. AMJ Comms provided me with a way of helping individuals and organisations with their communications but now I am using it to focus on mental health at work, work-life balance and resilience. This will become my full-time work over the next two years or so: helping people and their organisations to find the right work-life balance, resilience and techniques for them, so that they can thrive at work and throughout their lives. I want to bring my lived and management experience, understanding of these issues, strong communication skills and my passion to help others.
I have included below two examples of talks/lectures I have done – you can also find my slides for the sessions. I can also provide you with some names of people I have worked with to share some feedback and provide references.
AMJ Comms was formed to help clients with their communications.
We have worked with, and for, a wide range of organisations in the public, private and third sectors. Some of these are listed below, along with some of their feedback.
“I worked with Ben on a major six-month project as we made some significant changes to our pension arrangements. This impacted existing staff and previous employees who had since left the company – around 15k people. Ben led communications for the project – something we considered to be critical in its success.
“Ben delivered a wide range of communications work for us, from insightful strategic advice and direction as we scoped out the work and planned and designed a detailed communications campaign, through to delivering a suite of high quality and effective products to support our work, including branding, a website, videos, an innovative user guide and clear and concise letters for our target audiences.
“He did a great job leading the communications team and was calm and professional at all times. He was fun to work with and worked well with a range of people from our organisation, his own, our legal representatives and a third party IFA provider. The overall exercise was a success, thanks in no small part to the communications work and the role that Ben played. He did an excellent job and I enjoyed working with him.
“I would welcome the opportunity to work with him in the future and would recommend him highly to others.”
— Chief Operating Officer, Major Retailer
“I know have known Ben for over ten years and worked with him on a number of assignments during this time.
“Ben has a great capacity for strategic thinking and what he does with this is quite special. He can take complex challenges or issues and (without being simplistic) is able to turn these into powerful messages that people from all parts of a community can engage with and respond to.
“He designs and develops strong communication campaigns that are politically shrewd but also result in genuine dialogue.
“He has the highest levels of integrity, a strong value set and will always put the interest of his client first.
“He is also fun to work with.”
–Simon Hackwell, former colleague and owner of Copt Heath Consultancy
“Ben helped us with internal and external communications for a major and highly sensitive change management project, providing strategic advice and hands-on practical support to the senior leadership team and colleagues. Ben developed a very quick and accurate understanding of our situation, its many sensitivities and the needs of our complex range of stakeholders. He helped us think through scenarios and develop strategies, was available throughout the project for contact and advice and, when needed, provided timely and highly effective media management. I would be delighted to work with him again and recommend him to others.”
— Michael Holman, Principal, Heythrop College
“We commissioned Ben to undertake a programme of work to explore perceptions of and future opportunities for the Academy among our Fellows and wider stakeholders. The projected resulted in a report that influenced the development of or new strategy in an incredibly positive way.
He dealt with a wide range of our contacts, including some of our most senior stakeholders in government and academia always representing the Academy with credibility and integrity. During his interviews and in his analysis he demonstrated deep understanding of our organisation, our agenda and the environment and context we work within – something many have struggled to understand.. He provided an insightful, high quality report that that I’m sure we will continue to draw on for a long time.
He was a pleasure to work with, quickly feeling like part of the team and always keeping us up-to-date on progress throughout the work. He responded positively to our feedback to ensure he delivered a project that worked for our needs, on time and on budget.
I would welcome the opportunity to work with him in the future and have already recommended him to others – although not to too many as I don’t want him too busy to work with us again!”
– Nick Hillier, Director of Communications
“We worked with Ben for nearly two years, having initially contracted with him following a competitive process in which we met a number of consultants.
Ben led a six-month strategic review of stakeholder engagement for the British Heart Foundation. He delivered detailed findings and recommendations on our engagement work – informed by interviews with people in every part of BHF and a focussed external perceptions exercise, in which he engaged with some of our key external, senior stakeholders, including within government. Ben also developed an engagement strategy for the future to support the delivery of BHF’s new five year strategy with our commitment to “listen, engage and influence” to our stakeholders.
His strategic review report was endorsed by the BHF’s Executive Group, chaired by the Chief Executive, receiving excellent feedback, and his eight recommendations were agreed in full. He went on to work with us on two further assignments – one to lead the implementation of his recommendations and a further piece of work related to stakeholder engagement as he helped us reorganise our policy and public affairs work and appoint a new leader for that team.
Ben has brought his extensive experience of communications, strategy and public affairs to the BHF and provided us with invaluable advice and support. He has been a key part of our team, working closely with us but also maintaining an independence and objectivity that has helped him challenge us throughout our work together – but he has done this diplomatically and sensitively and built and maintained excellent relationships across the BHF.
We consider him a trusted advisor who has provided advice and insight on a wide range of issues and topics, sometimes outside of his brief. He has been flexible and responsive – tailoring his approach both to the work and to fees to ensure they work for us. He is thoroughly professional and hugely credible in how he presents to our key internal and external audiences. He has a style and approach that works whether he is dealing with the Chief Executive and Board or those who are at the early stages of their career, whom he has coached and supported.
His knowledge of strategic communications and how government, parliament and other senior stakeholders work has helped transform our approach to influencing them.
Ben is fun to work with and someone whose values and integrity really stand out. We would be delighted to work with Ben again and would recommend him to others without hesitation.”
– Carolan Davidge, Director, Marketing and Engagement
“Ben was asked to complete an important stakeholder perceptions survey for the King’s Health Partners Board. The survey formed a key part of discussions about the future direction of our partnership’s work and therefore needed to be of a very high quality. It was also important that the survey captured views from a wide range of stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally.
From the very first conversation Ben engaged with the project in a proactive, positive and engaging way. He very quickly grasped the various sensitivities and issues involved in navigating a large, complex and varied partnership such as ours.
In what was a relatively short timeframe he managed to secure interviews with a significant number of our suggested interviewees, who are all very senior and time-pressured individuals. He kept us regularly updated through weekly progress reports and phonecalls and was never anything other than a pleasure to deal with.
In terms of final product, Ben delivered a high quality report on time, which perfectly struck the fine balance between praise and challenge, providing our Board and senior leadership with a hugely valuable insight into how we are viewed by our stakeholders, which we are now using to help shape our programme of work over the coming years. Ben also presented the findings to our Board, which was very positively received.
I would not hesitate to work with Ben again in the future, or to recommend him to others.”
– Michael Carden, Head of Communications, King’s Health Partners
In May 2017, we commissioned Ben to conduct a stakeholder views and perceptions project as part of the Society’s preparation to refresh its strategic plan. This work was designed to capture the impact the society had made over the past 7 years, in addition to securing suggestions regarding the future direction of travel for the society.
In carrying out the commission, Ben reviewed the Society’s website and relevant documents. He then gathered feedback from external stakeholders (in interviews), including senior figures in government, politics and academia, and crucially from Fellows (through an online survey) and analysed the information to produce a report. Ben quickly got to know our world and the people in it and was able to have really useful conversations about the Society with our stakeholders.
Ben secured an excellent response rate from stakeholders (nearly 90%), exceeding our expectations, all of which is a testament to Ben’s commitment, hard work, clear communication and approachable style. The final report helped the Council’s with its deliberations regarding the way forward.
From the outset, Ben worked with in a positive, engaging and constructive manner, providing us with pragmatic and helpful suggestions gained from his previous experience with similar exercises. He was proactive and kept us updated regularly. The final high-quality report showed an excellent grasp of the various issues, complexities and sensitivities involved in navigating our network and landscape. His presentation to Council was persuasive and credible.
We would have no hesitation in recommending him to others and working with him again.
– Professor Peter W Halligan, Chief Executive, Learned Society of Wales
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