Jenny Cantlay – Communications Officer for the One Health European Joint Programme

Communications Officer for the One Health European Joint Programme (University of Surrey)

Posted: 22/12/2022


£28K - 40K Varies depending on organisation.


Some weekdays travel to office and occasional travel to Europe for events.



Essential Skills

A veterinary or biosciences degree and a postgraduate qualification.


Patient, resourceful, innovative and precise.

Watch Jenny here...

…with this fab panel discussing switching to a career in conservation.

Jenny Cantlay

Check out our Career Q & A questions below to take a deep dive into this career path.  If you’re interested in this type of career but unsure how to take the next step, click below to learn more about our services designed to support you.

I initially worked in small animal practices for 12 years to develop my clinical skills. In 2012, I relocated to Asia due to my husband’s work, which gave me the opportunity to change career direction. I have always been interested in wildlife health, conservation, and One Health topics. During my time overseas, I undertook postgraduate studies and was awarded the MVetSci in Conservation Medicine in 2015. The five years spent living in Malaysia and China were filled with amazing experiences, as I did voluntary work for different animal welfare and wildlife conservation NGOs. On returning to the UK, I started a PhD in avian sensory ecology, leading to fantastic fieldwork experiences working with captive and wild birds. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic had various impacts on my doctoral experience, and I made the difficult decision to withdraw. Subsequent time spent doing locum vet work provided me with the flexibility to do a career coaching course, which helped me gain confidence to move forward in a new direction.

The career coaching was great. I realised that I had acquired many transferable skills from my varied professional life that could be applied to other job roles of interest to me. During my time spent volunteering, I had written articles for magazines and blogs and given presentations at public events about my wildlife experiences to raise public awareness for these NGOs’ work. I gained a great deal of satisfaction from these science communication activities. I also attended some science communications sessions as part of my postgraduate research. To advance my skills, I completed the Communications for Conservation Projects course by Conservation Careers in January 2022. Whilst doing this course, the Communications Officer role for the One Health European Joint Programme was advertised. Since the One Health approach aims to optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems, this role aligned with my interests. So, I applied for the job and was offered it!

As veterinary professionals, we already have good science communication skills. We communicate daily to a wide variety of people (the public, non-veterinary scientists, and other professionals). We are often producing written information in different styles and formats, including clinical reports, practice newsletters, client information sheets, practice website content. Many vets are already confident in using the digital world to share their veterinary (or other scientific) knowledge on social media platforms, websites, or online forums. Of course, it would be an advantage if you can attend a science or digitial communications courses to learn more about the tools and techniques available, especially for digital communications activities.

For my Communications Officer role based at the University of Surrey, there was the requirement to have postgraduate science qualifications, and preferably a PhD, due communicating One Health science from this European research programme. Although, I did not have a PhD, I was offered this job due to my background understanding of One Health topics and enthusiasm for writing. Most communication officer roles would not require this level of academic achievement on application, as it is more relevant to have practical understanding of different communications channels and audiences. I have learnt how to do most of my work on the job, and it has been a steep learning curve! Especially being given the responsibility for the digital communications activities (e.g., newsletters, website content, social media etc.), which was completely new to me.

I really enjoy deciding how to share this research programme’s outputs and activities to various audiences in more easily understandable and engaging ways. For this role, it is important for different stakeholders to understand how this One Health research programme can benefit their work across public, animal health and food safety sectors. I especially like promoting the PhD students’ work, as this increases their confidence. Since this programme is based in Europe, I have the opportunity to travel for attending some events, as I need to promote them.

This job is flexible since it is a hybrid role, so I mix working from home and going to the university campus. I have the freedom to decide how to manage my daily schedule and tasks within the framework of the Communications Team workplan. Whilst I work full time, my working hours provide better work-life balance than the days of working in small animal practice (inevitably staying late due to an emergency blocked cat at 6pm!). 

My job is mainly computer-based, and the downside is that I do miss the human-animal interactions that I had as a clinical vet. I have also found it challenging to take on a website administration role without any prior experience in this.

I deliver the digital communications activities, which involve writing regular internal and external newsletters, creating, and scheduling social media posts on Twitter and LinkedIn, adding content to our website (currently undergoing redesign), and emailing OHEJP members about internal events. I also contribute to reports, presentations, and compile communications data. Another member of the team deals with the creative branding and marketing for our organisation. Every few months, I may need to travel to Europe for a conference or meeting, so that I can provide live social media during the event, take photos, and gather information for reporting back on it afterwards. A reasonable amount of my time is spent doing administrative tasks. Overall, I much prefer the science communication activities to the administration ones!

Someone who can work both independently and be part of a team who has a passion for sharing scientific information. You must be willing to step out of your veterinary comfort zone and learn how to use digital tools required for various communications activities. It is also important to have attention to detail for writing and editing of communications materials. If you are creative and like using editing photos or designing graphics in Adobe, making videos, or have marketing experience, these skills would also be beneficial.

I would suggest that if you are interested in this as a career, you should explore how different communication channels can be used to share science information. If you work in practice, learn to administer the Facebook or LinkedIn page for your company, or volunteer your time to help a local charity produce its newsletter or magazine, or start writing blog posts. Professionally, it would be an advantage have done any courses in science communications, especially for digital communications activities, as it is good to understand how websites and social media platforms work.

Start creating content, both written and other media (videos, social media posts, podcasts etc.) about a topic you are interested in and initially share it with people you trust.

Be happy to receive their feedback on what you have created.

Ask them questions to find out what they liked/disliked about it.

Review what you have created and once you are more confident, share it with a wider group of people.

Look online to find Communications courses that interest you.

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