Chuka Umunna to leave Edelman for JP Morgan

Chuka Umunna is to leave Edelman after nine months to join JP Morgan in a role leading the bank's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) work in Europe.

Chuka Umunna to leave Edelman for JP Morgan

Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna (pictured) joined Edelman, amid much publicity, in July 2020 to lead its ESG offer as part of Smithfield, the agency's specialist capital markets and financial services team.

Edelman confimed to PRWeek that Umunna had resigned and will leave in April.

The agency said in a statement: "In the short time he has been with us, he has made a difference. Chuka has impressed our clients with his understanding of the issues they face and his input has furthered the work we were already doing in this space, prior to his arrival. We wish Chuka the very best of luck in his new role and hope that he can continue to make a difference.

“Edelman’s ESG work will continue apace under the global leadership of Heidi DuBois. The ESG mandates we are working on continue to expand and we have made significant investment to further develop our ESG capabilities and add to the talented teams we have assembled in the UK and the US.”

Umunna was presented as a marquee signing for the agency's ESG drive. Announcing his appointment, Edelman general manager Hugh Taggart said: “In a time of such profound change, we couldn’t have found a better person than Chuka to spearhead our ESG offer and advise our clients. Chuka is a deep and analytical thinker, a passionate campaigner for a fairer society, and joins Edelman at a time when Smithfield continues its rapid ascension as a leading adviser to many of the top global financial institutions.”

Speaking to PRWeek last September, Umunna said he and his US-based counterpart DuBois had been "globally co-leading the ESG push for the firm".

Of his decision to join Edelman, he said: "It seemed to me that if you wanted to build an ESG consultancy, Edelman was definitely the firm to do that and was in pole position to build something new and successful. It has done some pretty substantial work for firms on ESG."

At Edelman, Umunna joined fellow former Labour and Change UK MP Luciana Berger, who was also hired last summer – to lead its advocacy and public affairs team.

Like Berger, Umunna was a Labour MP before leaving the party in 2019 to be among the seven former Labour and Conservative MPs to form Change UK – also known as the Independent Group and the Independent Group for Change – amid criticism of the two established parties.

Umunna, like Berger, was unsuccessful in standing as a Liberal Democrat candidate at the general election in December 2019; he contested the seat of the Cities of London and Westminster.

Once tipped as a future Labour leader, Umunna was MP for Streatham in London from 2010 to 2019, which included a period as shadow business secretary. His other achievements include co-founding Small Business Saturday in the UK, and leading the successful campaign against the hostile takeover of AstraZeneca by Pfizer.

In a widely reported memo to staff, JP Morgan EMEA chief executive Vis Raghavan said of Umunna: “He has more than 20 years of private and public sector experience in managing ESG issues at a senior level and was recently named one of the top five ESG influencers in the UK. We welcome Chuka to the firm and look forward to supporting his efforts as we bolster our ESG commitment.”

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