Internal Communications Introductions: Meet Camilla Boyer
Head of Internal Communications and Culture at Hopin
I enjoyed talking with Camilla Boyer to learn about her career path. This is her internal communications story.
Camilla started out as the second internal comms hire at Twitter when the company was ~1000 people pre-IPO. She has since built a career in internal comms and company culture working across big and small tech companies in San Francisco and London, as a freelance executive communication coach, and currently as the Head of Internal Communications and Culture at Hopin. Camilla has her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her MBA from London Business School.
What sparked your professional path into Internal Communications?
I've always been a purpose-driven person when it comes to my work. I knew that I liked working with people and storytelling so I pursued companies that were purpose-driven where I could work in these areas.
I fell in love with Twitter—the work that they were doing to give everyone in the world a voice and being the catalyst for so many social movements—this really inspired me. I started looking at job postings there, and when I graduated, I took an internship in Marketing. It was a bit of a risky move because it wasn't a full-time job, but it was what was available and it was the company that I wanted to work for.
When I started, I was told that there was less need for external communications and more need for internal communications. They asked me if I would be interested in helping and of course I said yes! I just completely fell in love with the work. At the time, I was the second person working on Internal Communications for a company with 1,000 employees. It was just me and my boss. I got a lot of exposure with senior leaders and the opportunity to do really impactful work early on in my career. From that point on, I've pursued this work.
How do you describe internal communications to others?
Internal Communications is culture in practice. Your culture is how your people talk to each other and how your leaders talk to the rest of the company. It's the level of transparency that you are striving for within your organization—are you a criticism-heavy or praise-heavy organization? It is the most tangible part of your culture.
My team’s scope also includes internal events such as All Hands, quarterly kickoffs, social hours, mental health and wellness activities, and core values awards every quarter to recognize employees that most embody our values.
What is one element that you really love about your role?
I work on a team called the Vibe Team that’s pretty unique. The team comprises myself and my team - we are responsible for internal comms and culture - and my counterpart Jonathan Killeen who is our Head of Remote, and his team. Jonathan’s team manages all aspects of the remote experience including remote work/life balance, ergonomic support, health and wellness, and internal events. Traditionally, our roles wouldn’t sit on the same team (internal comms often sits within Comms/Marketing while Remote would sit on an HR/People team) but both of our top priorities is to create a great culture, so there are a lot of natural synergies that come from working closely together.
We also don’t report into a larger org - we report to the Chief of Staff to the CEO and our mandate is to make remote work, life and culture really flourish. Hopin cares a lot about prioritizing internal comms and culture, and the fact that our team exists is a testament to that.
What is one project you are particularly proud to have accomplished?
I’ll share a recent example and one from early on in my career. This year, I re-wrote Hopin’s core values. When they write values so many companies create them to be too generic and too aspirational. They basically make their values in the image of what they want to be rather than the image of what they are. To me, your values are about being authentic and true to yourself as you scale rather than helping shape you into something that you want to be. Your values should be 80% real and 20% aspirational. They should basically be you, but on your best day as a company.
In February, I talked to all of our Executives and 50+ people from across the organizations. You can’t create values in a vacuum with a bunch of Executives. You need to actually talk to the people who make up the company. I pulled together different focus groups of people and talked about what made us unique and codified them into a new set of values. We have awards that recognize people for embodying these values. We use them in our hiring process and business decisions. It’s been cool to see them become the cultural language of the company.
Early on in my career when I was at Twitter, we were growing and scaling quickly at the time. We were a very San Francisco HQ centric company, but in my role in internal comms, I was seeing that a lot of people in different countries felt very removed from the company. They felt isolated and didn't have the resources they needed so we risked having a fractured culture. I put together a team of 30 people who were already at the company, but basically they dedicated a day a week to being an internal comms facilitator and cultural ambassador in their office. We created this global network of people who were responsible for information sharing and creating those fun moments of cultural unity within their offices and can help us grow stronger globally.
What are the skills that are most important for someone to succeed in Internal Communications?
The number one skill is empathy. Being able to balance your own agenda with the agendas of the people that you're working with and understanding different people have different goals and like to communicate in different ways as well. I think that's super important to meet people where they are. Then, the second skill is you have to be a great communicator. You have to be a compelling writer and speaker to be able to help other people with those skills.
The third skill is that you need to be a bit of a shape-shifter. You need to be somebody who is equally comfortable understanding technical terms and bringing them into everyday language as you are taking pulse survey results and turning them into key findings. You have to be able to do a little bit of everything to do your job really well.
I always say I get to be “the dumbest person” in the room in that I represent the spectrum of people who will be hearing this info, and we need to cater to everybody. . It is our job to basically be able to understand things from across the organizations, whether it’s a complex legal update or an engineering feature being shipped, and telling that story in a way that resonates with everyone. It’s a hard thing to say “that doesn’t make sense,” but internal comms are most effective when you get people to distill information into the parts that are really most important.
How do you continue learning about the field of Internal Communications?
LinkedIn is a great tool. I love learning from people in our own space. I’m a member of Culturevist which is a community of people who care deeply about company culture.
I enjoy listening to the “Building Better Cultures” podcast by Scott McInnes. I also listen to the “Eat Sleep Work Repeat” podcast by Bruice Daisley and read his book by the same name with the subtitle “30 hacks for bringing joy to your job.” He also posts reading lists and resources that are great for learning about internal comms and culture.
I also try to keep up with the latest news and developments and make sure that I'm having an opinion on them. I try to stay on top of the news in these situations, such as what happened at Shopify with their CEO memo. If something like that would happen at our company, what would our reaction be?
What are you most excited about in your current role?
We're facing two unique challenges when it comes to how we're building out internal communications. First, we’re fully remote. Second, we’re in hyper-growth. In four months, we’ve more than doubled our employees and revenue, and we have employees in 45 countries.
I'm most excited about being a trailblazer in this world with those parameters — nobody else has had to scale a culture so quickly in a way that hopefully will sustain us as we continue to grow. My biggest challenge is building not for the company that we have today, but building for the company that we think we're going to be a year from now - it’s a complex challenge, but super exciting, too.