PwC has appointed Edelman’s global vice chair Michael Stewart to lead global corporate affairs and communications.
Stewart will be based in London and reports into global markets leader Richard Oldfield while working closely with global chair Robert Moritz. He also joins the global markets leadership team and chairs PwC’s global public policy board.
"Michael brings a wealth of expertise and experience, and a truly global perspective, which will be hugely beneficial for our organisation as we work together on building the PwC of tomorrow," Oldfield said.
Stewart brings more than 25 years of experience in strategic comms, public affairs, reputation risk management and stakeholder engagement.
At Edelman, he has been global vice chair since February 2017, and was previously Edelman’s European CEO for three-and-a-half years.
Prior to that he was McKinsey’s global head of communications and has worked as a senior executive in social sector organisations focussed on sustainability and corporate responsibility, including the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum.
A hybrid role
Stewart is the second senior comms executive in a fortnight to join a Big Four consultancy, with KPMG securing former Tesco comms director Jane Lawrie.
Stewart's role is a hybrid leadership position that combines comms, corporate affairs and public policy across PwC’s global network of firms in 158 countries with 250,000 staff.
His responsibilities also involve aligning the policy and communications needs of PwC’s service lines – such as audit and assurance, tax and consultancy – to drive coherent and consistent messaging across different stakeholder audiences.
Stewart said the fusion of corporate affairs with comms and policy is a growing trend in large corporates to better manage corporate reputation.
"When I was at Edelman we were seeing a trend towards bringing together the cross-stakeholder reputation piece. It’s about making sure as an organisation you are looking across all stakeholders rather than just in verticals," he said.
"Organisations can get very siloed, whether it’s different market segments, areas of business or stakeholder groups. The corporate affairs function, like legal, is one of the few functions that is well positioned to see across all of those different groups."
Stewart told PRWeek he has known PwC staff for many years and admires the brand and its culture. He said he is attracted by organisations with "purpose and values driven at their core", which is what he experienced at Edelman.
"At Edelman we had the fortune of working with leading companies throughout the world, in both building reputation and transforming how they are positioned, and the issues they have the grapple with," he said, when asked what he will bring to PwC.
"What I love about PwC is that it is a big, complicated place; they are great at a lot of things but have a mindset of constantly learning and improving. They like to bring on people with an outside-in perspective and I’ll bring that fresh perspective, some challenges and new ideas."