E16. Tips on how to pursue your career goals - from social marketing to director of public health

Season #2 Episode #16

In today’s episode, we welcome Professor Steve Maddern, Director of Public Health, Swindon Borough Council. 

The idea for this episode was for Steve to share how he rose to be Director of Public Health to inspire communications and marketing professionals to believe no senior management level is too high. 

Our main question was “Imagine you are doing your TED Talk on Leadership – what one message would you share with someone who is a couple of steps behind you.”

His advice is well worth a listen and includes:

  •  saying yes to opportunities
  • informal and formal learning 
  • considering the impact of work decisions on your whole life not just your work life.  

But ultimately whatever your dream turning up as your best self and keeping abreast of the knowledge you need to do to be the best at your job.

But our conversations gave us so much more; as Steve discusses how public health and marketing and comms have become much closer bedfellows.

Public Health, like marketing,  is often referred to as an art and a science. 

We discuss how there is so much growing synergy between the disciplines and that ultimately they need to work in sync to make a difference and be effective. 

Steve talks about his experience delivering a community-based activity campaign called the Big Pledge across Wiltshire. A legacy of the Olympics it used micro commitment to reset social norms. Steve highlights that the first year wasn’t very successful but use of data and perseverance resulted in it running for many years to become a phenomenal campaign that created community spirit whilst helping people to begin and keep active

Steve highlights the importance of attitudes when delivering communications and marketing – the willingness to test, review, refresh and adapt where needed. The safe space to explore what is working and what isn’t. The confidence and leadership to have honest conversations around measuring and evaluation. 

After all how realistic is it to think you can get it perfect every time? (Editor’s note: Expectations run perfect campaigns can cause real stress for colleagues!)

Steve’s current COVID campaign is called  It’s Up to all of Us. It is a community-based campaign - a call to action to protect each other and consider the impact of their actions directly or indirectly. This work highlighted the importance of the application of insight and a deep understanding the audience. Swindon has 40 different languages, reaching everyone to help keep them safe was fundamental. 

Steve says

“Behavioural science is more important than ever and I think this has shown the evolving and advancement of public health, it isn’t just a leaflet or a poster telling you what to do it’s about actually taking the insights from the communities and the people you want to influence and using that along with the data and the science to develop the campaign. 

Q: What makes you – your best self?

“Knowing I can make a difference.” "I am in awe of the team I have around me” 

Q: What book would you recommend

Nudge. The goal is to make better lifestyle choices the easy choice. It highlights the role of policy but also translates how behavioural science can be used as a local level. A core text for public health and communications.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness: Amazon.co.uk: Thaler, Richard H., Sunstein, Cass R: 8601404213366: Books

You can connect with Steve via LinkedIn