WLC – “The communications function should be at the heart of an operation”: 5 Key Takeaways from our event with Baroness Patience Wheatcroft

Baroness Wheatcroft was Business and City Editor of The Times for nine years before taking up the Editorship of the Sunday Telegraph. She then moved into business, leaving journalism to join the boards of Barclays and the property company, Shaftesbury. In July 2009, she returned to journalism as Editor in Chief of the Wall Street Journal Europe.

She is now a Non-Executive Director of Fiat Chrysler and of St James’s Place Plc. She is a Conservative peer and prominent campaigner for a People’s Vote, calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

On 20th September 2018, Baroness Wheatcroft spoke to the Women in Communications Careers Network on a wide range of issues concerning women, business, journalism, leadership, politics and Brexit. We had a great turnout of fellow communicators who enjoyed the thought-provoking discussion stimulated by Patience’s thoughts.  From a wide-ranging discussion, the following points focused on the role of communications.


1) The communications function should be at the heart of an operation. It must demonstrate that it fully understands the inner workings of the business.

2) Involving communications at board level is hugely helpful. It is the role of a NED, corporate affairs, or communications function to be brave, speak up, and disrupt the agenda. To avoid groupthink and being surrounded by ‘yes’ people, it is crucial to include them in top level conversations.

3) We should do our best to empower working women. Many, particularly those in business, still face tensions and criticisms when it comes to their childcare decisions. Diversity is valuable in all forms and brings new ideas to the table.

4) Building relationships in the digital age is difficult, both internally and externally. Some see a Corporate Communications function as a means to bat off journalists, however, a good communications person (or team) will build relationships with and talk to the media in good times and bad.  And while forging your career within a company,  ensure you are on good terms with the support staff. They are the gatekeepers to people you want to meet, or the tasks that you want to complete. 

5) You don’t need to have a career plan. Find what you enjoy doing and be enthusiastic about it. If you find yourself in a job you don’t like, it is up to you to choose to either go with it or decide that life is too short.

Would you like to advance your career or appoint someone?