When the East Anglia Daily Times headlined a story in April, ’Rural
Vandalism’, Stefan Kosciuszko’s career in PR had started.
The new board director at financial PR firm Gavin Anderson had seen his
Grade I-listed weekend retreat in Suffolk encroached upon by a local
pitch-and-putt course. Outraged at the imposition, and aware of the
damage being done to an item of national heritage, Kosciuszko placed
stories in the local press and lobbied the council’s planning committee
to kill the idea. Like most of Kosciuszko’s schemes, it worked and the
plan has now been shelved.
The 40-year-old banker studied international relations before joining
the global division of the National Westminster bank as a graduate
After charting a way out of NatWest and into the investment banking
major league, the 1980s were spent working for Schroders on various
projects in London, Athens, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
He has come a long way since then. His last job before joining Gavin
Anderson was as head of Schroders’ equity and capital markets division
in Hong Kong, running a team of 20 financiers from Singapore to
The Asian economic crisis in the summer of 1998 led Schroders to close
many of its Asian operations and was an indicator to Kosciuszko that his
future lay outside the region. Along with his Japanese wife and two
young daughters, he returned to London. Financially secure, he took
extended leave until the spring of this year, when he abandoned
corporate finance for a fresh challenge.
Born to a British mother and Polish father in New York in 1959,
Kosciuszko came to England at the age of seven, but when money was
scarce and the fees at Scottish public school Gordonstoun could not be
paid, Kosciuszko decamped to night school to complete his A-levels. He
managed them in four months.
An Oxford historian acquainted with Kosciuszko commented that a man of
his ancestry - the original Kosciuszko was an 18th century Polish folk
hero, while the modern Kosciuszko’s paternal grandfather led British
forces in the 19th - must have fire in his belly. Stefan Kosciuszko has
it in spades.
He will need it to maintain Gavin Anderson’s fine track record of
The firm brought in fees of pounds 20 million in 1998, launching IPOs
for Air France and Kingston Communications last year, as well as fending
off Total’s takeover bid for Elf and helping Renault acquire a stake in
The choice of Gavin Anderson was deliberate. Kosciuszko says he always
found financial communications interesting. Approached by the agency, he
was interviewed by the head of the company’s London office, Richard
Constant, and three other board directors.
The agency is at a vital stage in its development, Kosciuszko says, and
the time was ripe for him to join. ’Richard has a strong vision of
turning Gavin Anderson into a leading global financial PR firm. The
structures and people in place make them ideally placed to do that.’
The contrast between banking and PR is not so marked, Kosciuszko
As a banker, he would advise clients on charting a path through a
specific situation. The same mastery of technical detail is required, he
says, but with communications awareness as well. ’I have some learning
to do,’ he willingly admits, ’but I am still spotting opportunities to
help clients and assisting them in times of crisis.’ Even if Kosciuszko
has not acquired a PR mindset, he feels his international experience
will give a depth of insight into high finance which will be of use to
Gerry Grimstone, Kosciuszko’s boss for six years in London and Hong
Kong, agrees. He says Kosciuszko’s strengths lie in his intellect and in
developing client relationships. ’In recent years financial PR has
become more sophisticated, requiring more detailed understanding of the
banking business. Stefan certainly has that,’ Grimstone says.
The view of Kosciuszko’s former boss is shared by a former employee.
Viral Gathani, who now works in Hong Kong for Wall Street outfit
Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette (DLJ), considers him a ’mentor’. He speaks
highly of Kosciusko’s people skills, but points out that his personality
may have been more suited to a US bank. ’His strong personality was
sometimes inconsistent with what was expected at blue-blooded
Schroders,’ Gathani says.
The contacts Kosciuszko built up in 20 years on banking’s front line
will certainly be useful in his new job. Gathani has already offered to
introduce him to staff at DLJ’s London office. Kosciuszko’s
business-winning reputation is set to be reinforced.
Joined global markets division of Chemical Bank International
Head of equity capital markets for Schroders in Hong Kong
Board director, Gavin Anderson