If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area


Catherine Ritchie, CIPR Inside Committee member, shares why taking time out to build your confidence is a worthy investment and why the CIPR Inside Summit is the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Catherine Ritchie is a communications consultant and contractor based in Orkney. With a wide range of internal and change communication experience across different sectors, she’s sat on the CIPR Inside committee since November 2023.

As David Bowie once said, “if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

That’s a feeling many internal communicators will recognise (and not just because we’re rock stars). With the speed of change, broadening of remits, and a challenging external environment, we don’t stand still for long. Internal communication teams frequently move mountains to do exciting things – advocating for colleagues’ needs, supporting great experiences and helping organisations to achieve objectives. 

While we’re always up for a challenge, that doesn’t mean we’re immune to imposter syndrome. It’s certainly been a recurring feature in my own career over the years. Despite working on chunky strategic projects, crises and transformations, it’s hard to shake the feeling of wondering when you’ll be found out. Especially when, like many people, I accidentally fell into an IC career.

As someone who’s learnt lots by doing, CPD has been an important driver in my progression and understanding of the wider profession. But as the second anniversary of going out on my own and becoming an internal comms consultant approached last year, Bowie came back to mind. What had I done to take my feet out of the safe area lately? And that’s why I decided to try and get Chartered. 

As it turned out, encouraging myself to take this slightly-scary-yet-exciting step is one of the best things I’ve ever done to kick my imposter syndrome into touch. Making time for development and pushing myself out my comfort zone helped to solidify the depth of experience, knowledge, skills and theory I have across internal comms and PR more widely. Something that we often don’t have time to do on a day-to-day basis when we’re so focused on delivering in our roles.

Becoming Chartered also led to my involvement with the CIPR Inside committee, a team of amazing IC specialists who want to help our profession and the people in it to develop and shine. We’re a diverse group with representation from organisations around the globe, giving us a strong understanding of the opportunities and challenges that communicators are facing on a regular basis. 

Our current focus is on organising what’s shaping up to be a fantastic virtual conference – the CIPR Inside Summit – on 19 March. With topics on a wide range of areas including values, purpose, employee experience and leadership, the day has been designed specifically to help you succeed in the ever-evolving landscape we’re all operating in. 

As my experience has shown, there’s a huge amount to be gained from giving yourself the opportunity and headspace to take a step back and reflect to keep progressing in your career. I’ve been working closely with our event speakers over the last few weeks, and can promise you’ll have lots to take away from their insight, tips and tools to keep improving your internal comms activities while supercharging your skills and confidence.

If, like me back in 2023, you’re currently standing at the bottom of that metaphorical summit, feeling a bit comfortable, and wondering how to do something exciting that will help you move closer to the top, please join us on the day. 

Wearing Bowie-related fashion as a gentle reminder about getting yourself out that safe zone is an optional extra.