De Lagarde started in her role at the global asset management group just a couple of months before the coronavirus hit - and built a comms team over a six-month period. She was integral to the effort to support the switch to home-working (in less than two weeks). Under de Lagarde's leadership, the comms strategy included launching a change management process, whereby any change that affects clients would be managed by the comms team centrally. Collaboration with the investment and distribution teams has increased dramatically and ultimately lifted client retention. More than 30 change comms plans were issued between July 2019 and the tie of entry; feedback from client-facing teams has been overwhelmingly positive.
De Lagarde brought in more efficiency, overseeing a 20 per cent cost reduction across the PR agency network, media monitoring and evaluation.
She also gave crucial support to the high visibility media campaign, ‘Your clients need you’. And alongside publishing the firm’s quarterly Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index from home, which generated more than 650 articles per edition, the comms team also launched a sister study: the Janus Henderson Corporate Debt Index. This generated 384 articles, with coverage in the Economist and on the front of the Financial Times.
The internal comms effort saw the launch of a COVID-19 response intranet, a podcast, global weekly employee newsletter, and renovated intranet. During lockdown, the internal comms team also launched employee participation initiatives such as Wellbeing Wednesdays and Stronger Together, and raised more than $160,000 for the Janus Henderson Foundation benefiting COVID-19-impacted communities. Additionally, the firm’s CEO and CFO were converted to delivering video interviews on a weekly basis - research found senior management’s approval rating grew significantly.
"You can feel Sarah's passion, enthusiasm and creativity flowing throughout this entry. Sarah's determination and leadership has elevated the importance of the communication function at the firm to the executive level and boardroom - of course, where it belongs but sadly, this is not the case in all organisations. A very impressive entry and a worthy winner."
Bill Myers, managing director, external communications and corporate responsibility, Liberty Global