NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick has hired former GE comms leader Gary Sheffer as senior corporate strategist, a part-time role, advising on corporate, executive reputation and engagement, governance, and cultural issues.
Based in New York, Sheffer is reporting to Micho Spring, chair of the Interpublic Group agency’s global corporate practice. His first day in the role was last Monday.
In the newly created role, Sheffer is proving "high-level counsel" to C-suite clients around the world including CEOs, Spring said. He is working as part of Weber’s corporate team.
"[Sheffer] brings uniquely relevant and crucial experience to today’s environment," Spring said. "He’s a star in our industry. Purpose-driven culture has become the most important asset for building reputation and mitigating risk. [Sheffer] brings expertise from his previous years at GE, driving culture and protecting corporate reputation."
Sheffer worked with Weber Shandwick last fall before the firm persuaded him to join on a regular basis. Sheffer said a common theme in his interaction with Weber clients revolved around "searching for that sense of corporate character."
"I’m a big believer that companies whose values are aligned with widely held social values are the ones that will win," he said. "They will win the recruiting wars, they will win in the marketplace, and they’re going to attract investors and partners. This is the business model of the 21st century."
Weber has retained the services of other prominent senior corporate strategists in recent years, bringing on former Korn/Ferry International chief communications officer and CMO Don Spetner in late 2013 and former Procter & Gamble global external relations officer Charlotte Otto in February 2011.
Sheffer joined GE in 1999 and began leading the global communications and public affairs department as VP of corporate communications and public affairs in 2003. He was replaced by Deirdre Latour, former senior director of external communications, when he stepped down nearly two years ago.
Prior to GE, Sheffer spent 17 years in journalism and government communications, including serving as a press aide to former New York Governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki. He was also a reporter for the Albany Times Union from 1986 to 1989.
"I’ve been through some uncertain times, [but] I’ve not seen a time like this," Sheffer said. "Today, the challenges to corporate reputation and culture are coming in at angles we hadn’t seen before. This is an essential time for communicators to be leaders in these organizations and help them navigate this uncertainty. I’m excited about it, so I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines. I wanted to try to do something new."
Sheffer stepped down from his role as chair of the Arthur W. Page Society in late 2015. He was succeeded by Dave Samson, GM of public affairs at Chevron, but he continues to serve as a trustee. He is also on the boards of the Institute for Public Relations, the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communications, and the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program.