Karen Smalley from the University of Reading will join Westminster later this month in the newly created role of Director of Marketing and Communications.

The University of Westminster has a long and distinctive history. Founded as the UK’s first polytechnic in 1838, its mission was to educate the working people of London. It has created a learning environment and a culture that supports a hugely diverse and international community of students. The University prides itself on providing grounded, holistic education with wide horizons and opportunities, so that people from every background can realise their true potential.

This newly created role of Director of Marketing and Communications brings together the merged Marketing, Communications, Creative and Digital teams. Karen will ensure that Westminster develops truly integrated brand, communications and product strategies to support its overarching strategic plan, values and business goals. Success measures will include an increase in collaboration between the various functions to ensure more integrated working across internal departments, and a more effective, wider reach to external audiences.

Society conducted a national search focusing on senior marketing and communication professions particularly within the Higher Education, Further Education, and Not-For-Profit sectors. We also looked at people from Central and Local Government. A public advertisement was run in parallel with our proactive headhunt, and a total of 54 candidates came forward. We ultimately filtered this down to 13 people who we interviewed in some detail on the University’s behalf.

The appointed candidate, Karen Smalley is a capable and effective brand and communication professional who understands both the university sector and the inner workings of Whitehall. Originally from Middlesex, Karen graduated from Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire) where she studied English Literature, before going to work for the Civil Service. After early postings to the Ministry of Defence and the Central Office of Information, Karen found herself working at the Department for Education (in its various guises) for a period of 12 years. Towards the end of this period she was Head of Marketing and Digital Communications – a senior Civil Service post. She later followed Sir David Bell, her former Permanent Secretary, into the Higher Education sector, joining him at the University of Reading, where he had been made Vice-Chancellor. Since 2013 Karen has been Reading’s Head of Marketing and Campaigns.

She joins the University of Westminster this July.