Fiona Passantino

Culture and Engagement Manager

"As the war for talent heats up, we need to rely on our powers of communication to express purpose, vision, and connection to keep everyone on board."

Interview with Aaron Saint John
28 January 2023

In the run-up to Internal Communications Europe 2023, we asked Fiona Passantino a few burning questions about her upcoming presentation.

we.CONECT: The pop in your job: Fiona, you work as Culture and Engagement Manager at Danone. Which of your tasks and responsibilities would you highlight as particularly exciting?

Fiona: I enjoy the daily hustle of internal communication as well as planning and executing the big events. Making those events — town halls, quarterly presentations, round tables — more exciting, interactive, and bonding as a whole. I also enjoy the listening aspect; understanding the needs of the community across multiple listening channels and forming a road map for leadership how to make a winning combination of small “quick-wins” mixed with the longer-term cultural shifts.

Our people are busy serving customers, and if we can save them time by simplifying processes and the technology that supports those processes, that’s good for the employee and good for business.

we.CONECT: What is most rewarding about your role and why are you passionate about your job?

Fiona: I am passionate about forming more engaged working communities; helping empower employees to be their best at work. At the same time, coaching management in their communication and listening policies so they form a conversation rather than simply one-way messaging.

we.CONECT: At Internal Communications Europe 2023, you will present your case study “The Power of Radical Listening: A Methodology and a Mindset to Create Positive Change”. In your opinion, what makes this project so exciting?

Fiona: Listening is the key to understanding, and Radical Listening takes the idea much further as both a methodology (with structure, roadmap, and tasks to follow) as well as a mindset (a shift in our thinking, as a whole, that guides our actions). Understanding the “why” makes the “how” and the “what” possible.

we.CONECT: What were your biggest challenges over the course of this project and how did you overcome them?

Fiona: The challenges were mainly in acquiring high-level stakeholder championing; this can become complex when many people up the chain of leadership feel threatened by this approach or feel they are obliged to carry out the will of the employees. Not necessarily so; the key is “listening” and not “delivering” (although that’s a logical next step). But in the long run, this creates high visibility demonstration of thought leadership, and it becomes evident what the benefits are to their own situations over time. Patience and… listening help this along!

we.CONECT: Looking to the future, what internal communications trends do you predict in the next 12 months? How do you expect the market to develop?

Fiona: I do expect this trend cycle: “Radical Listening”, “From messaging to conversation” to continue into the future; as the war for talent heats up (that part, I believe, is not going away just yet), we need to rely on our powers of communication to express purpose, vision, and connection to keep everyone on board. Leaders will need to become more visible to their employees — both literally (physically being seen, accessible, open, present) and metaphorically (publishing, commenting, writing, reading, liking, sharing, posting).

we.CONECT: What are your learning expectations at Internal Communications Europe? Which topics are particularly important for you?

Fiona: I am very excited about this gathering, particularly to compare notes with other communicators in other parts of the European continent — are we all sharing the same thoughts and ideas? Are there other experiments out there that people are conducting that are working? I can’t wait to feed my brain with all this new knowledge.

we.CONECT: That’s great to hear. Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Fiona. We’re looking forward to a very productive exchange at Internal Communications Europe!