Talking Point

CIPR President Elect: coming off the fence


Being President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations is an honour and a privilege and a high profile role, I know, I did it in 2015.

I put my hat into the ring, because I was keen to continue the march to professionalism that Stephen Waddington had started.  And when I spoke to people I admired and trusted, they reassured me that not only would they be there for me, but they believed I was the right person for the job.  I have never, in my professional career shied away from challenging roles (I have led PR in international development, public transport and the NHS).  And in my personal life I have had many issues to face.

My unflappable gene has been seriously tested through rail accidents, dealing with a murderous bus driver and too many painfully sad issues at the NHS to mention.

As the Immediate Past President I have not nominated any presidential candidate this year.  I wanted to wait to see who was standing and what they had to say.  You can read all three statements here.

I am now clear where my vote is going.  I’ve studied the statements, watched the hustings and listened to friends and colleagues.  One candidate got in touch to talk me through her key points and outline her vision for the Institute.  I want the CIPR to have a President Elect who is committed to action and to listening; who is well known for having a very cool head (on very wise shoulders) in challenging times; who has enormous passion and energy.

That is why I am going to be voting for Emma Leech.

Emma was one of our very first chartered practitioners and was also recognised by the Institute of Directors and the CIPR for her professionalism, when she won the PR Director of the Year award in 2012 (the year after me). She has chaired a sectoral group, she has volunteered for years for the Institute and for other organisations and issues she believes in.

I’ve been asked many questions by CIPR members over the past few days; and one that keeps coming up is how important is it to have ‘an insider’.

Whilst I had been a Group Chair and had attended Council, there were many senior CIPR figures I had not met until I became President Elect in 2014.  I clocked up thousands of miles meeting members, fellows, young communicators and I met as many new faces as I did familiar ones.

Emma has given much of her time to the CIPR – but she isn’t an insider.  She has a member’s perspective, not an insider’s perspective.  She is not afraid to challenge, but I believe she will do so in a measured way, seeking improvements every step of the way.

She’s got loads of board experience and she is a woman of gravitas.  She has a great sense of humour and fun (always handy in the top job) and she also has a highly developed unflappable gene.

On 31st December my involvement with the CIPR board and council will come to an end, I will be sad to step down, but I will be exceptionally happy to leave the CIPR’s reputation and future in the exceptional hands of Jason MacKenzie, as President for 2017 and I hope, Emma Leech as President Elect for 2018.


You can watch Emma talking about her plans here

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