Standard Life Aberdeen names new external comms chief as Thorneley departs after 20 years

Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) global head of media relations James Thorneley has left the FTSE 100 firm to seek "a new challenge".

Katy Hetherington has been promoted to the expanded role of global head of external comms at the asset management company after a restructure.

The changes follow the promotion of Stephen Whitehead to SLA's chief brand, marketing and corporate affairs officer role in October. He was previously chief corporate affairs officer and, prior to that, chief communications officer.

In a statement, SLA said: “Following a restructure of the corporate affairs leadership team to ensure clear stakeholder alignment around our strategy and growth vectors, a new role of global head of external communications was created.

"Katy Hetherington was appointed to the role, which incorporates media relations and broader corporate communications content and delivery.”

Hetherington, who reports to Whitehead, joined the company in 2011 as a graduate trainee. Prior to her new role she was global head of strategy, content and reporting.

Thorneley had worked in the business since 2000, when he became group comms manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which merged with Standard Life in 2017 to create SLA. He was later head of comms at Aberdeen Standard Investments – SLA's asset management business – before becoming global head of media relations at SLA in 2019.

Thorneley told PRWeek: “After 20 years with Standard Life Aberdeen I decided it was time for a new challenge. In part, working from home made me reflect over the past few months on the risk of going stale, which I’m loath to let happen. I have no idea exactly what I’ll do next, but it will no doubt be in the communications area.

“I spent longer with the business than my entire school and university career put together. I’ve probably learnt more, too. I have been very fortunate to work with so many fantastic people based around the world who have taught me so much.

“It’s been a privilege to have been involved in such a success story and I know there is more to come. Given the headwinds the investment industry is facing, SLA is ahead of the curve, in terms of the breadth and depth of its investment capabilities, its distribution channels/platforms – both by geography and client type – and balance sheet strength. Under Douglas Flint, Stephen Bird and the leadership team, the business will continue to evolve and will get even better.

“Asset management is a people business. Central to my time with the organisation has been the importance of a team approach. Individuals come and go, but it’s about the collective. I have no doubt this collegiate spirit will ensure SLA flourishes.”


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