Here's What Australia's Top 50 Most Powerful In-House Corporate Affairs Advisers Have In Common

Former WA Premier Alan Carpenter

Almost one-third (31%) of the top 50 in-house corporate affairs and public relations professionals in Australia have some experience in the political world, according to research by recruiter Salt & Shein.

They’ve worked as media advisers to politicians and, in one case, have been politicians themselves. Four have been chief of staff to a prime minister or a premier. One of them, Alan Carpenter at Wesfarmers, is a former Premier of Western Australia.

One in five has an MBA and one in five started their careers as journalists, either in print or in pure electronic media.

And most (85%) believe social media has changed the way their companies are communicating with stakeholders.

Salt & Shein partner Peter Salt says the top salary would be a base of around $600,000 and would range from around $250,000 a year plus superannuation and incentives.

He says there’s no absolute when it comes to the best experience, but having deep knowledge and understanding of the political system is a clear no-brainer.

“Most of these executives have gone about acquiring very specific experience in a range of environments,” he says. “These environments include politics, peak bodies and industry representation, the media, publicly-listed corporate environments and consulting.”

What they are very good at doing is understanding the psychology of group behaviour, and forecasting how a group of stakeholders will react to any given circumstance and how to communicate accordingly.

“What most fail to realise is that these executives’ reputations are based on this fact which has been honed over time so that they have developed an uncanny ability to accurately read situations,” he says.

A career in corporate affairs crosses economics, law, business and politics, so for those planning a career in a related role, any degree with this orientation is going to work as a foundation.

“Personally I think too many people focus on communication when in fact a deep understanding of the financial, regulatory, economic, tax and legal frameworks their employers operate within is more important.”

The executives in the 2014 Salt & Shein Power 50 Report work for some of Australia’s most successful companies and brands, many of them within the top 50 ASX-listed companies.

These executives charged with protecting and enhancing the reputations of leading companies operate in diverse industries such as financial services, resources, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, media and sport.

Here’s the list, in alphabetical order:

  • Steven Blaney, Managing Director Corporate Affairs, Citi Australia
  • Vivienne Bower, Group Head Corporate Affairs & IR, Lend Lease
  • John Bresnan, GM Investor & Government Relations, Crown Resorts Limited
  • Gillian Burrows, Director of Corporate Affairs & Communications, Asciano
  • Alan Carpenter, EGM Corporate Affairs, Wesfarmers
  • Ron Christianson, Director Corporate Communications, McDonald’s Australia
  • Martin Cole, Director Corporate Affairs, Goodman Fielder
  • Paul Edwards, Group GM Corporate Communications, ANZ Bank
  • Andrew Ethell, Group Director Corporate Affairs, Toll Group
  • David Epstein, VP Corporate & Regulatory Affairs, SingTel Optus
  • Simon Francis, Director of Corporate Affairs, Seven West Media
  • Kimberley Gardiner, Communications Director, Office of the Leader of the Opposition
  • Jeremy Griffith, Director External & Group Communications, Carlton & United Breweries
  • Justin Grogan, EGM Corporate Affairs & Investor Relations, Leighton Holdings
  • Robert Hadler, GM Corporate Affairs, Coles
  • Andrew Hall, Executive GM Corporate Affairs, Commonwealth Bank
  • James Hall, Senior Director IR & Corporate Affairs, Brambles
  • Damon Hunt, Group Executive for Public Affairs, Santos
  • Gavin Jackman, Executive Global Head of Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility, Orica
  • Helen Karlis, GM Corporate Affairs Comms & Investor Relations, David Jones
  • Danielle Keighery, Group Executive Corporate Communications, Virgin Australia
  • Amanda Lampe, EGM Corporate Affairs & Government Relations, ASX
  • David Luff, Chief Advisor Media Relations, Rio Tinto
  • Jo Lynch, GM Corporate Affairs & Media, Myer
  • Carolyn McCann, GM Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Westpac
  • Peter McConnell, Director of Corporate & Public Affairs, Woolworths
  • Jane McMillan, Head of Communications, Office of the Prime Minister
  • Luisa Megale, VP Public Affairs, American Express
  • Lina Melero, GM External Affairs, Origin Energy
  • Michael Millett, Director Corporate Affairs, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Jeremy Mitchell, Director Corporate & Public Affairs, Huawei Australia
  • Karyn Munsie, Group Executive Corporate Affairs, IR & Government Relations Bank of Queensland
  • Kris Neill, Head of Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, Macquarie Group
  • Matthew Percival, Group Executive Public Affairs & Chief of Staff to CEO, AMP
  • Mark Ryan, Group Director Corporate Affairs, Westfield Group
  • Michael Sharp, Group Head of Corporate Affairs & IR, Downer EDI
  • Neil Shoebridge, Director of Corporate & Public Communications, Network Ten
  • Adam Suckling, Group Director, Policy Corporate Affairs & Community Relations, News Corp Australia
  • Simon Talbot, Director Corporate Affairs, Mondele´z
  • Peter Taylor, VP Corporate & Government Affairs, Carnival Australia
  • James Tonkin, Corporate Affairs Manager, Australian Football League
  • Angus Trigg, Director Government & Media Relations, GrainCorp
  • Nicholas Tzaferis, GM Group Corporate Affairs, Tabcorp
  • Alec Wagstaff, Director Corporate Affairs, Coca-Cola Amatil
  • Adam Wand, VP Government Affairs & Public Policy, Visa
  • Dr Tony Warren, Group Executive Corporate Affairs, Telstra
  • Olivia Wirth, Group Executive Brand, Marketing & Corporate Affairs, Qantas
  • Karen Wood, Group Executive Public Affairs, BHP Billiton
  • Stephen Woodhill, Group General Manager Corporate Affairs, Metcash
  • Peter Young, GM Public Affairs, Cricket Australia

You can find profiles of each Here

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