Lisa Hunter and Gemmaine Walsh, who have both previously held senior comms roles across Whitehall, will join GCS chief executive Simon Baugh’s new senior leadership team.
As deputy chief executive, Hunter will take charge of improvements to cross-government media, social media, and crisis communications capability at GCS.
Chief operating officer Walsh will oversee the GCS strategy for the next three years, and is tasked with raising professional standards and delivering corporate functions.
Baugh, who was previously director of comms at the Home Office, was appointed chief executive of GCS in September, replacing Alex Aiken in the most senior role.
Prime Minister’s objectives
Hunter is tasked with delivering Boris Johnson’s objective for a digital hub that can “communicate more effectively with the public”, the GCS said.
She will also ensure that the Civil Service uses social media in a “bolder and more decisive fashion”.
Hunter has moved to the new post from the Department for Work and Pensions, where she was appointed director of comms in 2018. In that role, she oversaw comms for reforms to welfare, including Universal Credit.
Hunter began her career as a broadcast journalist for Real Radio Wales.
She went on to be a press officer for the Welsh Conservatives before serving as a press officer to Tory grandee and former MP Kenneth Clarke and then Samantha Cameron.
After a stint working on external affairs for the England and Wales Cricket Board, Hunter served as a special advisor to Jeremy Hunt when he was Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport.
She went on to serve as a special advisor to Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of the Universal Credit policy, when he was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Hunter was later head of media at the insurance market Lloyd's of London before joining MHP as an associate director.
Commenting on her new role, Hunter said: “I’m hugely excited to take on such a key role in shaping the Government’s communication as we emerge from one of the most challenging periods in our history.
“I look forward to working across Whitehall to ensure we are speaking with one clear voice and providing a strong sense of direction as GCS moves forward, together.”
Walsh has worked in comms for 20 years and began her GCS career as a press officer at the Ministry of Defence.
Her roles since then have included jobs at the Home Office and DWP, as well as a stint as a press officer at Clarence House for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Walsh also took two senior roles in education, as head of comms and engagement at the London School of Business and Finance and director of comms at the University of Reading.
She returned to the Civil Service in 2017 as director of comms at the Department for Education.
She has also helped oversee the Government’s Reshaping GCS programme, in the role of transformation director, for the past year.
Walsh said: “I’m really passionate about our profession – especially the impact government communication has in helping our society. I want us to be at the top of our game and achieve the best for our profession and public service.”
‘Joined-up comms and raising standards’
Baugh (pictured) said of the appointments: “I am really looking forward to working with Lisa and Gem and I am delighted they will be part of my senior team.
He added: “Lisa and Gem will be leading on my two biggest priorities – joining up communications on the most important issues the country faces and raising professional standards to build a communications profession fit for the future.”
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