THURSDAY 24 JAN 2019 1:19 PM


Corporate affairs directors that are to succeed in the challenging landscape presented by modern communications will need to be courageous. And they should exhibit good judgement.

These, among other traits, are key characteristics the modern corporate affairs director should have, based on research conducted by the European Association of Communications Directors (EACD) and management consultancy Korn Ferry. The organisations carried out interviews with corporate affairs directors, communications directors and corporate leaders over the course of 18 months.

The goal was to determine what is best in practice of today’s corporate affairs directors. “The good news,” the report says, “for corporate affairs directors is there has never been a better opportunity to take ownership and have impact, at scale.” The bad news, is that it’s harder than ever before to do so.

Because today’s business’ require expert reputation management, always-on communications and faultless strategic leadership, the modern communicator has to possess a number of different skills and abilities in order to get it right. Added to that are the transformational challenges facing most businesses, including improving transparency, maintaining reputation and stakeholder management, facilitating the corporate culture and getting digital communications right.

That’s not a cake walk for any one person to tackle. Further challenges compound particularly around the need for corporate affairs directors to have business experience and understanding beyond the areas of communications for which they are responsible.

“To be successful at the pinnacle of the function, a Corporate Affairs Director needs to demonstrate executive presence, exercise good judgement, and be seen as a trusted advisor,” the report states.

Korn Ferry and the EACD suggest that communications leaders who are risk tolerant, educated about business and leadership dynamics, can make decisions and collaborate with others are those who will succeed in this challenging landscape.

The drivers discovered as keys to success include:

  • Courage
  • Decision quality
  • Strategic communications
  • Business acumen
  • Navigates organisational scale and complexity
  • Change leadership
  • Cross-functional experience
  • International mindset
  • Trust
  • Risk tolerance