Jolie Hunt joined Thomson Reuters as global head of PR for its Markets division just 10 days after the companies merged in April 2008. Not long after that, Hunt accompanied the division's CEO Devin Wenig and other team members on a 17-city tour of its European and US offices. She hoped to get a flavor of the company and “understand the cultural differences of what was former Thomson and what was former Reuters,” she says.
“It was a wonderful, kind of get-thrown-in-the-deep-end experience,” she adds. “Spend 16, 17, 18 hours a day with your new colleagues.”
The company, which reports total annual revenues of nearly $12.5 billion, is still in the process of meshing the two, once-distinct companies into one. The Markets division includes the Reuters news service, as well as information and technology services for the financial sector. The Professional division includes healthcare and law tools, as well as informational services.
“We're about $8 billion,” says Hunt of her Markets division. “All the news, all the financial services, that's my day-to-day.”
Now a 27,000-person division, Hunt says she is working to build a PR team that will help communicate to those stakeholders and beyond.
“Our whole mantra is truly to be-come one company within a year,” she explains.
Noting the risky nature of mergers, the task ahead would seem a challenge to most, but Hunt, 30, isn't new to the game. She graduated early from Boston University, worked at Putnam Investments and PR Newswire, among other companies, before landing in business development at the Financial Times, working from its New York office. Within four months, a job leading its PR department opened up. Hunt applied and got it. She was 24.
After four-plus years with FT, Hunt moved to IBM for a year and a half before joining Thomson Reuters.
“FT set the stage for everything,” she says, noting that she's often still the youngest person in the boardroom, a fact that doesn't faze her.
“I think you need to be young to do this,” she says. “If you deliver, that quiets your skeptics. I deliver.”
Wenig doesn't doubt her ability. Within 10 minutes of their interview (the rest of the team had already fully vetted her, he notes), he was sold.
“It was a very easy decision to make,” says Wenig, pointing to her background in media and finance. “That's been proven in the [time] that she's been here.”
He adds that Hunt has been in-strumental in devising a strategic PR plan for the newly merged company, a challenge for an organization that works on such a global scale.
“She's very mature in her thinking and... about how PR can be a strategic marketing function,” he says. “I think the most important thing is that we have a true PR plan. I think we understand where we're going. I think for a very long time PR was a reactive function.”
Hunt gushes with enthusiasm about her new job, but takes care not to forget those that helped her get to her current role. She fondly recalls Lionel Barber, editor at FT, and calls Jon Iwata, SVP of marketing and communications at IBM, one of the “smartest guys in global comms.”
“I have great relationships with colleagues around the business,” says Hunt. “That has been professionally critical for getting these kinds of roles at a pretty tender age. I mean I have a real network... I care about it, and I foster it.”