Profile: Peter Walker, IPR - Walker takes the IPR wheel/Ex-rally driver Peter Walker prepares for a change of gear at the IPR

Peter Walker, the newly installed IPR president and chairman of Pielle and Company, occupies an office whose walls speak volumes about the man. On one there are the framed pictures of him posing with heads of state, ex-KGB directors and eminent Tory politicians. On the others you notice the numerous model frogs scattered about and boyish pictures of motor cars.

Peter Walker, the newly installed IPR president and chairman of

Pielle and Company, occupies an office whose walls speak volumes about

the man. On one there are the framed pictures of him posing with heads

of state, ex-KGB directors and eminent Tory politicians. On the others

you notice the numerous model frogs scattered about and boyish pictures

of motor cars.



A serious thinker who possesses a touch of levity, Walker has worked

closely with several Tory politicians down the years. His long CV also

includes a stint as a campaigner at Conservative Central office, helping

with the party’s communications effort during the 1964 and 1966

elections.



But he is no Central Office clone. In fact he enjoys stirring things up.

Witness his reaction in 1995 against the IPR’s proposed register of

lobbyists, for which Walker was branded an ’anarchist’ by Tory MP Peter

Luff. And despite his Tory connections he also counts Mikhail Yefimov,

former editor of the Soviet Novisti press agency, and Gennadi Gerasimov,

the Kremlin spokesman during Gorbachev’s time, among his friends.



While he was heavily engaged in party politics during the 1960s Walker

also found time to let his hair down. In the early 1960s he failed to

complete his degree at the University of Wales: ’I was a failed doctor and

then became a failed accountant,’ says Walker. ’I studied medicine but

didn’t qualify due to my regular attendance at dances.’



After university Walker worked, in 1966, on the Conservative’s successful

GLC election campaign team. He then moved to ad agency JWT as a management

trainee. Walker says that he didn’t seriously consider a full-time

political career: ’I took the view that I would never be any more than a

backbencher and they have no power.’ He mischievously adds that his

tee-total habits and dislike for wine bars would have counted against

him.



Walker, who heads the public affairs effort at Pielle, retains an

enthusiasm for political work abroad which was cultivated during a spell

working at the European Commission. He was director of the European

Movement in Wales and the West at the EC, working on policy for the coal

and steel industries. During his time at Pielle he has worked for clients

as varied as the communist Angolan government, the Athens stock exchange

and US Tobacco.



Walker has spent some of his PR career in-house. In 1975, after spells in

various consultancies he moved to BOC, the industrial gases group, as

public affairs manager. Here he focused on shareholder issues, working

practices, and policy regarding apartheid for the company which was

investing heavily in South Africa.



Now Walker takes over as president of IPR as it celebrates its 50th

birthday.



On his successful election Walker says: ’Nobody would describe me as

ambitious but I got involved with the Institute early on and people felt I

should run.’



Walker says that he will offer continuity following on from Simon Lewis’

tenure as president. He is clear on what is top of his agenda: ’The IPR

mantra is now about setting standards. I welcomed the PRCA’s consultancy

management paper because a fragmented industry will achieve diddly squat,’

he says.



Walker is also keen to talk about the education of PR people. He is

particularly keen on a new IPR diploma which is to be launched later this

year.



The introduction of standards for lobbyists and City communications

people is another matter of concern for him. ’It will be nonsense to

have a simple system for regulating lobbying in Europe and nothing in

the UK Parliament,’ he says. ’If we don’t lead on this then somebody

will impose.’



In his spare time Walker follows motor sport and he used to be a rally

driver. There may be fewer thrills and spills in his new role at the

IPR, but he is at least intent on moving the Institute in the right

direction. Under Walker, the Institute seems set for a period of

evolution rather than revolution.



HIGHLIGHTS



1966 - GLC campaign team, Conservative Central Office



1970 - Director of the European Movement in Wales and the West at the

EC



1975 - Public affairs manager, BOC



1980 - Chairman Pielle and Co



1998 - President IPR.



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