Council comms chief takes up new job at ICO

Jen Green, former director of strategic comms at Manchester City Council, has left local government to become director of comms at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Jen Green, director of communications, Information Commissioner's Office
Jen Green, director of communications, Information Commissioner's Office

Green spent 20 years at Manchester City Council, where she held a number of comms roles.

One of her toughest challenges during her tenure was in dealing with the aftermath of the Manchester bombing in May 2017, when 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena were killed.

She is now heading up comms for the ICO, in a new job that started last month. Reporting to Paul Arnold, deputy chief executive, Green heads up a 20-strong comms team.

Green said: "This is a new director role at the ICO, so my immediate focus is to establish a strategic communications function for the organisation. The powers of the ICO have significantly grown in recent years, in particular with the strengthened European and UK data protection laws, and we need to continue to invest our efforts in engaging more people in information rights in the digital age."

She added: "What this means in practice is making sure people know their rights; where they need to go if those rights are abused and perhaps most importantly that the public have the trust and confidence in us, as regulator, that we have their back when it comes to privacy, information access and information rights."

Green has joined the ICO at a time when comms is being given more prominence within the organisation.

Spend on comms and external relations, over and above comms staffing costs, has doubled in the past two years, rising from £403,000 in 2017-18 to £804,000 in 2018-19.

Green describes herself as a “strong media and communication professional” with a background of "working in the government administration industry".

She graduated from Salford University with a degree in politics and history in 1999 and went on to study at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she was awarded an MBA in marketing in 2003.

Commenting on her time in local government, Green said: "I’d spent 20 years working in various roles at Manchester City Council, latterly being responsible for the council's communications function since 2015. We worked on some life-changing projects, for instance the response to the Manchester Arena attack, and during my time significantly improved the way we engaged and communicated with residents."

However, the "time had come for a new challenge" and "taking on a newly created role in a national organisation that works on things that matter was too good an opportunity to miss."

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