Gizem Weggemans Practice Group Leader, London
Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officers
Communications and Public Affairs Officers are no longer mere “spokespeople” or executors of decisions made by others. They are increasingly involved in shaping the business.
Many Communications and Public Affairs Officers now actively define business strategy and personally manage vital stakeholder relationships. As more and more leaders in Communications and Public Affairs become members of the Executive Committee, the profile and the centrality of these essential functions continue to increase, as does the scope of Communications and Public Affairs leadership responsibilities.
Diverse stakeholders, the rapid expansion of communications channels, and the blurring of traditional geographic boundaries make reputation management an ever more complex and intricate responsibility. This landscape is driving a rapid evolution in the Communications and Public Affairs executive profile, from purely a “trusted advisor” to a visible, high-stakes leader. Organizations are rightfully taking a long, hard look at how they attract, develop and retain top Communications and Public Affairs talent. A growing number of these leaders come from non-traditional backgrounds.
At Egon Zehnder we understand not only the challenges faced by Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officers, but also those confronting functional leaders across this space, including government affairs and public policy, internal communications, media relations, corporate social responsibility, community relations and investor relations. With deeply rooted local and regional relationships, the consultants in our worldwide Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officers practice bring extensive experience, deep insight garnered through their ongoing interaction with the leading names in this field, and access to a global pool of top talent.
We stay immersed in the current thinking in Communications, Corporate Affairs, and Public Affairs by continually engaging with top leaders one-on-one as well through our ongoing series of signature events. As a result, we gain deep insight into the rapidly evolving and expanding business demands on Communications and Public Affairs Officers, which in turn prepares us to constructively inform your thinking. The consultants in our practice blend deep expertise and interest in Communications and Public Affairs with a broader perspective gained through our business conversations across the boardroom, the Executive Committee and all major business functions, allowing us to approach your unique challenges in an appropriately comprehensive context.
When identifying talent to lead in Communications and Public Affairs, defining the ideal candidate goes far beyond reviewing a ready list of names. This is especially true for senior Communications and Public Affairs Officers, as their cultural fit with the organization and their ability to represent the essence of the company are as essential as their technical know-how.
The consultants in our practice work with you to develop a detailed profile of the Communications and Public Affairs executive you ideally envision in the role – recognizing that often there is not a cookie-cutter solution. Significantly, we help you think beyond your current needs toward the future of the role in the context of your evolving strategic priorities, your stakeholder landscape, and the changes underway in Communications and Public Affairs overall. Referencing our globally researched benchmarks, we can specify the leadership competencies and behavioral traits you require, so you can objectively benchmark internal as well as external candidates against the same rigorous standard. Perhaps more importantly, we can help you assess potential, utilizing a unique methodology that helps you anticipate how rising leaders will perform in new and more demanding executive roles, to help you create more accurate and reliable leadership development and succession plans.
Personal, global search
When the candidate profile calls for external search, our consultants personally and confidentially engage their local and global relationships and Egon Zehnder’s global consultant network to identify candidates prepared to meet your needs. All of our consultants are motivated via our equal partnership structure and fixed-fee pricing policy to work on your behalf. The power of this trusted network places the insight and resources of our entire firm at each consultant’s fingertips, making our solutions richer and more responsive, and creating tangible, enduring business impact for our clients. Your search consultants are supported by a dedicated team of researchers who simultaneously run your requirements through relevant segments of our database, which continually tracks top executive and director talent worldwide. Through this rigorous process, we closely examine candidates who demonstrate a potential match, analyzing critical incidents in their careers for insights into how they might navigate the challenges they would face in your targeted role.
As we move deeper into conversation with interested, well-qualified candidates, we conduct interviews grounded in our sophisticated and rigorously validated leadership Competency and Potential Model. Our evaluation encompasses far more than the customary professional track record check and referencing. We methodically surface the candidate’s full range of capabilities, personal tendencies and behavioral characteristics, gain penetrating insights into their readiness to perform in the targeted leadership role, and assess how smoothly candidates would integrate into your organization and culture.
We also invite candidates to envision themselves in the role, helping them gauge the fit on a personal, professional, and cultural level.
Our consultants develop trust-based relationships with candidates, gaining a close understanding of their requirements and concerns. So as the search progresses toward the hiring phase we are ready to serve as problem solvers and facilitators. Again, our fixed-fee policy ensures that we can play this sensitive role with no conflict of interest.
Our value add does not end with a successful hire. For newly appointed senior executives, the first few weeks and months in the role are critical. They must quickly understand the organization’s culture, set the right priorities, and establish credibility with colleagues and stakeholders. Our Accelerated Integration service speeds your new executive’s journey to full impact. We start supporting executives well before “Day One” in a new role – ideally, as soon as the appointment decision is made. Working in collaboration with the hiring manager and the HR manager, we help your executive build an accurate and insightful picture of the upcoming integration challenge, making the keys to leadership success vividly clear and crafting a plan to hit the ground running. We also work personally with the welcoming leadership team as well as the executive to quickly cultivate interpersonal trust and open dialogue. Through the first 90 days, our consultants gather and distill candid feedback on the first impressions the executive is creating during the initial integration. We meet one-on-one with the executive at regular intervals – creating “islands of time” to allow them briefly to set aside all-consuming operational priorities, reflect on progress, identify and prioritize early wins, and calibrate their approach as needed.
Executive Assessment and Development
Beyond executive search, we offer Executive Assessment and Development services designed to help you link specific talent management effort directly to your business strategy. Our proprietary approach to Executive Assessment and Development includes appraisals and benchmarking of your senior managers’ competencies, experience, and growth potential. We assess 10,000 executives a year in this way, working with you to develop your leaders, maximize the effectiveness of your senior teams, and plan and support succession for key roles. Our focus on Diversity and Inclusion helps you nurture diversity at the board and executive level – and translate it into business value.
We pride ourselves on the fact that most of our client relationships are long-term. We earn your loyalty by being consistently effective, energetically responsive to your needs, and tenaciously committed to your ongoing success. Our goal across all our services is to help you make better people decisions for critical roles, systematically increase your leaders’ readiness to take on bigger challenges, build a sustainable talent pipeline, and ensure that your leadership teams have the diverse strengths required to create competitive advantage.