Google’s public affairs chief to join Ofcom as director of comms

The communications regulator has appointed Google’s public affairs chief to be its new director of comms, as the organisation prepares to take on new duties from the government, PRWeek can reveal.

Simon Redfern will take up his role with Ofcom in the new year

Simon Redfern, who is currently director of public affairs for Google in Europe, will take up his role with Ofcom early next year.

He will oversee the regulator’s comms team of 24 people across functions including public affairs, PR, corporate comms, internal comms and campaigns.

The team is responsible for Ofcom’s social media and web channels, and its media office.

Redfern takes over from Chris Wynn, who led the team for five years until he left to become director of corporate comms for the John Lewis Partnership in the summer.

Joe Smithies, Ofcom’s head of media and corporate relations, stepped up to become interim director of comms following Wynn’s departure. He will continue in this capacity until Redfern takes up his role, then resume his original post.

PRWeek understands that Smithies did not apply for the permanent role.

Redfern will report to Melissa Tatton, Ofcom’s group director, corporate. Commenting on his new role, Redfern told PRWeek: “I'm proud to be joining Ofcom's comms team and really looking forward to playing a part in making communications work for everyone.”

Forthcoming agenda

Ofcom’s agenda for next year will keep Redfern busy. As well as the regulator’s role in reviewing the future of public service broadcasting and increasing coverage of full-fibre broadband, the Government will give it new duties to tackle online harms.

Career path

Redfern began his career working for organisations concerned with voting and democracy before moving into agencies with a role at public affairs specialist Connect, where he rose to become a director.

More agency jobs followed, at Fishburn Hedges and Pagefield, where he was a partner, before Redfern moved to an in-house role at Starbucks, where he rose to vice-president of corporate affairs, EMEA.

After five years with the company, Redfern moved to Salesforce as vice-president of comms, EMEA, before moving to his current Google role.

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