Profile: Andrew Gowers, MD/head of corp comms, Europe and Asia, Lehman Brothers

The 31st floor of Lehman ­Brothers' headquarters offers a ­stunning view of London. From Canary Wharf, the vista takes in the Millennium Dome, the winding Thames and a swathe of the City. It is a world that former ­Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers knows well, only now his ­perspective is ­different.

‘I'm entering the second phase of my career,' says Gowers, four months into his role as MD/head of corporate comms for Europe and Asia at the 150-year-old US investment bank. ‘I've never seen PR as the dark side. Journalists have jobs to do, so do PR professionals. Neither should belittle the role of the other.'

Gowers is slightly shorter in stature than you might expect given his bullish reputation in the City. But he has the aura of a man who likes to get the job done, and takes time to emphasise his respect for the industry into which he has moved.

‘Journalists like to think they are buccaneering individuals with no allegiance to anyone,' he says. ‘But good journalists listen to sources, and comms people are important in that respect.'

He adds: ‘It's odd - far from criticising the move, my peers have eased any worries I had at the back of my mind with their positive response.'

The 48-year-old reveals that he eventually wants to move into managing businesses, and his current role is a stepping-stone towards that. But he stresses he is taking his Lehman Brothers remit very seriously indeed.

Gowers speaks five languages - his German honed by masterminding the successful launch of FT Deutschland.

‘I've always liked the idea of developing and creating something,' he says. ‘Here, I'm developing a strategy and telling Lehman Brothers' story - one of growth - just as I developed the FT in Germany.'

Gowers' four years as Financial Times editor brought him back to London - a difficult period in which many national newspapers, including the Pink 'Un, suffered declining sales. Gowers feels publishers need to stop worrying about circulation figures and focus on the potential of new media. He has similar views about PR. ‘The [PR] business is truly 24/7 now, which is a change and a challenge,' he says. ‘But even more of a challenge is developing variegated ways of reaching your target audience. It's about going back to basics - who do I want to reach and how do I do that?'

His task at Lehman Brothers, which he describes as ‘formidable', is to help the company adapt to the new-media environment and position the bank as an expert commentator on City issues. Gowers believes papers such as the FT will increasingly give space to informed analysis, rather than news - he has already set up many meetings between journalists and senior Lehman executives to make sure his company is the source of that analysis.

Quite separately from this, Gowers is heading a government review into intellectual-property law - this takes up a fifth of his working week and should be ready for publication in late autumn.

‘I think that the Government wanted someone with investigative and analytical qualities,' says Gowers. ‘Views are polarised. There's one side that wants to free everything, and one arguing that copyright is like physical property. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.'

Gowers started the investigation soon after he left the FT late last year, at the time spending the rest of his working week with his wife and eight and five-year-old children.

Back on the subject of Lehman Brothers, Gowers says he has no trouble describing his current role to anyone who asks - he says it is easier to describe than it was his former FT responsibilities. ‘I always found it more difficult to explain what I was doing when I was an editor,' he chuckles. ‘I used to say it was like being at the head of an orchestra. Perhaps some of those skills carry across.'

And, as if to underline the fact that his new role does have more than a few similarities to the one he left behind, Gowers duly departs for a meeting with a PR agency.

CV - Andrew Gowers

2006
MD/head of corporate comms, Europe and Asia, Lehman Brothers

2005
Oversees the Gowers review of intellectual property for government

2001
Editor, FT

1997
Editor and joint MD, FT Deutschland

1983
Reporter, rising to deputy editor (1994), Financial Times

1980  
Reporter, Reuters

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