PR agency Williams Nicolson hires four business big hitters

Williams Nicolson, the comms agency launched this year by experienced PR figures Steffan Williams and Louise Nicolson, has announced a quartet of senior hires including its first chairman.

Nick Bowers (far left) joins as chairman alongside special advisors (L to R) Paul Kelly, Phil McManus and Paul Newman
Nick Bowers (far left) joins as chairman alongside special advisors (L to R) Paul Kelly, Phil McManus and Paul Newman

The latter role goes to Nick Bowers, whose 34-year career in investment banking includes head of UK equities at Goldman Sachs and head of corporate broking at Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. Bowers also becomes a founding shareholder.

The other three, who join as special advisors, are:

- Phil McManus, who has worked in corporate communications for over 20 years, initially in consultancy and then in-house as a comms director for Vodafone, Sky plc, Rolls Royce and Worldpay. At Vodafone, McManus was part of the team involved in managing the consolidation and integration following the acquisition of Mannesmann for over £110bn. At Worldpay she led the charge during the IPO in 2015.

- Paul Kelly, who has 35 years of European corporate finance transaction experience covering M&A, IPOs and leverage finance, with roles at PwC, 3i, Lazard, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, where he was co-chair of the European Investment Banking Committee. He holds several finance and comms advisory roles.

- Paul Newman, co-founder of energy broker ICAP Energy (part of ICAP plc), who led the business for 26 years as CEO and then chairman. He is a governor and a council member trustee of the Ditchley Foundation charity.

Williams said: “We’re delighted to welcome Nick, Phil, Paul and Paul to the firm. They’re all exceptionally gifted individuals with hugely impressive track records. Plus, they’re all great fun!”

Nicolson added: “The arrival of these four brilliant advisors bolsters our firm and proves how serious we are about delivering the very best strategic advice to leaders. Watch this space.”

Williams Nicolson launched in January as a "strategic communications and change management consultancy" focused on "data-led communications".

Williams, the Capital MSL founder who headed Portland's financial comms division before departing late last year, worked briefly with Nicolson when he was chief executive of Porta and she was a partner at Porta-owned agency Newgate.

Nicolson earlier founded and led two PR agencies: Comtext Communications and Bread, selling the latter to 3x1 Group in 2015. She is the author of 'The Entrepreneurial Myth: A Manifesto for Real Business', published in 2018.

The firm's six launch clients included international recruitment business Robert Walters, AIM-listed professional services group Ince, Japanese insurance company Sompo, and HeliOffshore, the European organisation for the offshore helicopter industry.

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