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Inside View: Hesleden Partners

The firm is looking for MBAs who can deploy their analytical toolkit to help blue chip firms manage their corporate reputation

This week’s Inside View is with Hesleden Partners, a London based research practice specialising in corporate reputation. They help build the reputations of clients from BNP Paribas, to Nike and Vodafone, and their research partners are Fortune or FTSE 50 or European equivalent companies. Justin Doherty, Managing Partner at Hesleden, encourages MBAs in search of internships to contact him directly.

Tell us about Hesleden Partners in a couple of sentences!

Hesleden is a research and advisory practice specialising in evidence-based insight into how organisations approach reputation.
We analyse emerging trends, best practice and new approaches in Corporate Affairs, working with boards and executives of leading global corporations.

What is 'Corporate Affairs' in a nutshell?

Corporate Affairs is the function within a corporation responsible for directing activities that relate to corporate reputation, and for providing advice to the Board, Executive and Business leadership. It is an emergent and rapidly evolving discipline, reflecting Board interest in corporate reputation.

Those of you with a sharp eye will have spotted that the word ‘communications’ does not appear in our definition. That is because reputation has less to do with how a corporation communicates and much more to do with strategy, behaviours, corporate decision making, and relates directly to the activities of other functions including risk, strategy, HR, and legal.

Give us some examples of clients you work with.

We work with Astra Zeneca, BAE Systems, BG Group, Blackstone, BNP Paribas, Capital One, Centrica, Credit Suisse, Diageo, GE, HSBC, IBM, J & J, National Grid, Nike, Rockwell, Pfizer, P & G, Prudential, Standard Chartered, Thomson Reuters, Vodafone, and Xerox amongst others.

What type of research do you conduct?

Each year we interview over 100 senior executives from around 60 global corporations. The interviews are augmented by academic literature, think-tanks, corporate literature, business school studies and management consultancy reports.

Which companies can you think of which have a particularly strong Corporate Affairs function?

We are observing interesting and potentially groundbreaking new thinking and approaches at Diageo, Ebay, GE, National Grid, Vodafone, and J&J.

On the flipside, can you provide an example of a company which has screwed up their Corporate Affairs recently?

All of those organisations that have suffered major reputation damage as a result of illegal activities, poor behaviour, and who have demonstrated a gap between what is expected of them, and how they have behaved.

What type of work would an MBA do in your organisation?

We are very small so an MBA would get directly stuck into things. We are constantly developing our thinking and analysis on areas such as reputation-relevant data and intelligence, reputation risk, Corporate Affairs capability development, and organisation culture. We are also developing new products to help us help our clients even better than we do already.

What skills and qualities are you looking for in the MBAs you're hoping to hire?

We’re looking for people with the ability to analyse complex information, drawing sensible, focused and practical conclusions.
They should have well crafted, crisp writing that is a joy to read, and be an engaging, interesting personality with something interesting to say, and they must have the ability to understand reputation in the context of overall business strategy.

How can MBAs apply for internship at Heselden?

Email a CV and short covering note to justin.doherty@hesleden.com explaining who you are and why you want to work with us.
We are offering three-month internships, with the opportunity to convert to a permanent position for right people.

What advice do you have for anyone trying to impress you?

Show absolute enthusiasm for reputation, what it means and how it works, and don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions.


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