Today’s business world is characterised by increased globalisation, intense corporate activity – mergers & acquisitions and shorter value-creation cycles – and continuous change. Thanks to real-time digital media we now live in a world with 24-hour news cycles. Companies are under pressure to listen and be responsive to stakeholders around the world, including the corporate and financial press, employees, communities, governments and investors. While the value of communications remains hard to quantify, recent crises in the financial markets, as well as numerous corporate scandals have repeatedly demonstrated the crucial role that communications can play in deciding a firm’s future. So it is not surprising that international companies are increasingly looking to take a more strategic and structured approach to the communications function. That means drawing up a well thought-out communications plan including key messages and communications platforms. For companies, the core output of the communications role is to effectively support business and create added value. The priority for most multinationals has become to instil a strong proactive approach and institutionalise best-in-class practices with a view to turning communications into a strategic asset. To meet these demands, Communications Directors must be able to fully understand and navigate between completely different environments – dealing capably with the business world and an increasingly media and digitally-driven public sphere – as well as mastering different cultures. The increased focus on the communications function calls for a complex and multifaceted profile; one that is perhaps best described as a “bridge-builder.” The skills and experiences described below are essential for both successful Communications Directors and media professionals aspiring to this position.
The bridge builder
Cagla Bekbolet, a consultant at Egon Zehnder International, London, has a MSc in Finance from London Business School, London and a BA in Business Studies from Bosphorus University, Istanbul. She was formerly a senior consultant at the Monitor Group Europe in London and an associate in Equity Research at BT Alex.Brown in London and an associate in Equity Research at the Finans Bank, Istanbul.
Before joining Egon Zehnder International as a consultant in Berlin, Philipp J. Fleischmann held several positions including managing director of Deutscher Sportverlag; Chief Operating Officer of Multimedia and managing director of the Handelsblatt newspaper group. He also worked as an editorial journalist at the „Handelsblatt“ and „Die Welt.“ He holds MAs in economics and modern history.