Lawrence, who left his role as European head of corporate communications at Lufthansa in 2000, takes on the post at rail consultancy specialist Atkins after more than a year overseeing PR for Railtrack's West Coast Route Modernisation Programme.
Railtrack has since replaced Lawrence with Nigel Barber, who was promoted from head of corporate affairs for the Midlands region.
At Atkins, Lawrence is tasked with looking at the firm's comms capabilities across the world. He is currently supported by just one assistant and uses the parent group's City PR firm Brunswick for ad hoc external advice.
But Lawrence said he is assessing the situation with a possible view to boosting both agency and in-house resources: 'There's lots to do in raising our profile. Communications is seen as being an integral part of our drive to build the business and my job is to promote our credibility to all our shareholders.'
He added internal comms was an area he would be focusing on: 'There's a big job to be done in internal communications, as part of making sure that Rail's contribution to the Atkins Group is communicated effectively.'
The PR review is set to be completed by the end of this month.
Atkins Rail, which was rebranded in May from WS Atkins, recently appointed former Railtrack WCRM general manager Tony Fletcher as MD. It is understood he was instrumental in appointing Lawrence.
Lawrence briefly worked at Regus for five months as global director of PR prior to his stint at Railtrack.
He left German national airline Lufthansa ahead of a major group-wide PR overhaul nearly two years ago (PRWeek, 15 December 2000).