So, you want my job? Director of comms, the University of Cambridge

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Paul Mylrea's role as director of comms at the University of Cambridge?

Don't say 'there's nothing you can teach me', warns Paul Mylrea
Don't say 'there's nothing you can teach me', warns Paul Mylrea
Paul Mylrea

Director of communications, the University of Cambridge

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
Salaries for Directors of Communications in the sector vary, from around £70k to well into six figures. It very much depends on the institution, the skills you bring and the expectations. There is upward pressure on salaries as the sector gets more professional about comms and marketing, as it gears up for a post-Brexit world, and as international competition gets fiercer. As for me? I’m far from the top of the range!

What qualifications do you need?
A good degree, and preferably a postgraduate degree. After all, you’re dealing with existing and future Nobel Prize winners (did I mention that 96 affiliates of the University of Cambridge are Nobel laureates?).

What level of experience do you need?
You need deep experience of public relations and you need to understand policymaking. The actual needs will vary; some institutions will be more focused on marketing to potential students, others more interested in the research agenda.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Higher education institutions are complex establishments. When you work in an environment where the whole ethos is to challenge the given, to develop new understanding, and to think beyond the confines of the present, you can expect a rich tapestry of opinions, many held forcefully. While previous experience of public sector comms may not be essential, you do need to be able to navigate a complex environment.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
Where do I start?

What is the best part of the job?
The gown? Being an extraordinary fellow (the title of my affiliation to Wolfson College, Cambridge)? Seriously? It’s the people, always the people. I never stop being amazed at the intellect, curiosity and commitment to the University’s mission – "to contribute to society…"

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
Astronomers are helping cancer researchers develop better ways of imaging tumours.

If you get an interview, do say?
I’m here to learn.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
There’s nothing you can teach me.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Wizard? Pulling rabbits out of hats?

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