Spotlight on Jo Garwood

10 May 2013

Jo Garwood

This week the spotlight is on Jo Garwood, Digital Communications Officer, UCL Arts & Humanities, UCL Social & Historical Sciences and UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies (SSEES).

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Digital Communications Officer for Arts & Humanities, Social & Historical Sciences and SSEES.

I am creating a Digital Communications Strategy for the faculties, which will look at how we can use our websites as a means of communication most effectively.

The aim is to provide the right toolkits, templates, guidelines and support to enable departments to really make the most of their websites.

I’ll also be looking at things like social media strategies, audio and video content, e-newsletters and events, and other online marketing channels.

Right now, a big focus for me is the first UCL Festival of the Arts, taking place May 7 – 17.

It’s a free programme of events celebrating the research and work which goes on in the faculties and there are some really interesting things happening over the 10 days, from talks on 1960s cinema, queer medieval knights, a Jane Austin quiz, and the mafia, to poetry, art events and films screenings (and these are just the things I’ve put my name down for!).

I think there’ll be a big festival-shaped hole in my life once it’s finished and it’s been great to be part of such an exciting event! But we are hoping to see it become annual, so fingers crossed, before I know it, I’ll be involved with planning the 2014 festival!

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I started in mid-November and the time has already flown by! Before that I was working for a marketing agency as a Copywriter & Communications Strategist. I was writing copy about some very strange brands (naming no names) so it has been great to come into a situation where I am working on projects I feel enthusiastic about and can really get my teeth into.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I led a website relaunch in a previous role as Editor of an events website, which is probably the work-related thing I’m most proud of. It was very satisfying to see the ‘before’ and ‘after’ and get some really positive feedback from our subscribers. It was a huge job and it took a lot of time, organisation and co-ordination, but it was definitely worth it.

Outside of work, every now and then I still like to drop in the fact that I got one of only 13 places on the Creative Writing BA at UEA, even though I didn’t get the three As at A-Level which I needed (oops). That is a long time ago now though, so perhaps it is time to let it go!

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?

Obviously the UCL Festival of the Arts is pretty high on the list at the moment, but alongside that, my four key projects right now are the ESPS, Philosophy, SELCS and SSEES websites.

I’m working with people in the departments to revamp the sites, looking at site structure, content, navigation and usability, as well as conducting user research with internal and external audiences.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

It’s always so hard to just pick one, isn’t it! I could deliberate for hours, so I’m just going to tell you the latest ones I have bought/seen/read instead. I just bought The Haunted Man by Bat For Lashes on vinyl, I just finished reading Autoportrait by Edouard Levé (which has actually become one of my favourite books of all time) and the most recent film I saw was Last Shop Standing at the weekend (which is a brilliant documentary about independent record shops).

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

The pressure! I don’t really have any favourite ‘jokes’ that I can think of on the spot.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Yotam Ottolenghi (he can cook for us), PJ Harvey (I think she’d be fascinating and she could sing for us), Marilyn Monroe (to find out what really did happen), David Attenborough (for amusing anecdotes about animals and just to listen to his lovely voice), David Bailey (to document the night on film) and Gina Yashere (to make us all laugh).

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks so much (but don’t wear the green trousers and purple silk shirt to the local Under 18s disco because you will regret it).

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I was on TV as a child with Harry Secombe (fleetingly)? I perform spoken word at open mic nights? I have broken my nose twice? I’m not sure to be honest!

What is your favourite place?

London. I’ve lived here for seven years and recently had to move out to Essex temporarily. I move back this weekend and I literally can’t wait.