Fiona Cookson joins from the the British Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The BFI has appointed Fiona Cookson to the new role of Director of External Affairs at the BFI. Cookson will join the BFI’s Executive Board at the end of September.

She joins from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) where she is currently Head of External Relations and Press Secretary to Vince Cable.

In her new role, Cookson will lead External Affairs, a new Directorate which incorporates Film Policy, Creative Europe Desk UK, the BFI Research and Statistics Unit, BFI Certification Unit and Corporate Communications & Public Affairs.

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, said: “Fiona’s experience at the heart of British policy-making will be invaluable as we seek to maximise opportunities for the UK’s film and screen industries, and demonstrate their importance as drivers for growth in the UK economy overall.

“Fiona’s appointment comes as UK film is riding high both culturally and commercially, and she joins us at a exciting and dynamic moment  as we work to build on this success by developing  ambitious and exciting plans  to support film companies, champion  filmmakers and inspire audiences.”

Cookson said:“After 13 years in Government it is a thrill to be moving into an organisation that combines the best of public service with the best of individual enterprise, expression and creativity. 

“The BFI is a powerful champion for British film at a time when the industry is enjoying such commercial and critical success.  I am really looking forward to being part of the team that does such a great job serving filmmakers and audiences across the UK.”

Alongside her media work at BIS, Fiona has helped to position the Department as an advocate for business and enhanced its reputation with leading business organisations and companies large and small.

Cookson began her Government career at the Home Office providing media advice to Home Secretaries and senior ministers. Over six years, she honed her crisis communications skills on highly charged issues like terrorism, immigration, crime and policing.

From there she moved to the Department of Health where she was chief press officer, delivering an ambitious campaign to support the reform of the NHS.

Cookson also brings private sector experience, having worked at a financial PR consultancy in Leeds after graduating, a tech PR consultancy and latterly as account drector at Global PR Consultancy Weber Shandwick.