From the very first moment we begin to comprehend the world around us, we begin to find our identity as a communicator. Indeed, our early life experiences play a key part in forming who we are as comms professionals later in life. And for Jennifer Thomas, our final guest on season 8 of The Internal Comms Podcast, her formative experiences have helped her build an internal ethos that guides her every move as Head of Communications in the Data & Analytics arm of the London Stock Exchange Group.
London-born Jennifer spent most of her childhood in Canada, where she was raised by Guyanese parents. A black British girl growing up in the ‘80s, she faced teasing from her peers. “When you’re a young kid and you’re different, that point of difference becomes a sticking point and can stigmatise you,” she told Katie. “I remember people saying, ‘I didn’t even realise there were black people in the UK.’”
While this led Jennifer to retreat socially, she credits this early life experience as teaching her the power of listening. “In that time, I was listening and learning. Listening to how they spoke, phrases, tone…” It’s a skill that she champions as a communicator – and it’s also shaped her into somebody who is proud of both her roots and her experiences all over the globe.
It’s also set her in good stead to connect with a diverse range of audiences. Because, for Jennifer, having a strong sense of who you are is key to becoming the best communicator you can be. Your work will thank you for it, she explained. As you seek to communicate across borders, cultures, creeds, religions and identities, you will have the empathy to include people from all walks of life and an openness to embrace the value of diverse thought and experience.
Today, Jennifer champions diversity and inclusion at every turn, and has used her world experience to build a career in comms at one of the world’s economic powerhouses. Who knows where she would be without those formative experiences? And who knows where yours could take you?
Listen to the full episode of Katie’s conversation with Jennifer here.