PROFILE: Christopher Joll, Focus Communications; Focus on a busy financial man

‘I’m a bit of a risk junkie,’ admits Christopher Joll, Focus Communications’ new head of investor relations, in his first week back at the heart of the Square Mile.

‘I’m a bit of a risk junkie,’ admits Christopher Joll, Focus

Communications’ new head of investor relations, in his first week back

at the heart of the Square Mile.



This could be one reason why Joll has worked for seven leading

organisations in the past decade, most recently the Victoria-based The

Communication Group, where he ran the financial and corporate division.



Joll (47) is both a smooth talker and dresser. But despite his

regulation dark suit and striped city shirt, his colourful tie and slip-

on loafers hint at his well known flamboyance.



This is a man who lives life to the full. His flat next to the Royal

Albert Hall harbours a gym and a collection of fine art, although he did

close his own antiques shop in 1987 due to work pressure. Joll’s love of

opera has also led to his current position as a director of British

Youth Opera. Is it fair to refer to him as a bon viveur? ‘No, not

really, but I rarely sit down in front of the box. I admire achievers

and despise slobs.’



One former colleague describes him as ‘a man of the 1980s and a

caricature of the financial PR.’ Indeed Joll’s route into the business

is not atypical.



He began adult life in the army, before reading law at Oxford and

entering the City with investment bank Lazard Brothers.But it was at

United Scientific Holdings that Joll took on his first senior PR role as

head of group corporate affairs. Having built a high profile in the

City, he joined Paragon in 1987 to set up its City division. After the

company’s flotation, Joll fell out with chief executive Michael Hingston

and moved to Charles Barker City, which he describes as a ‘roller

coaster ride of corporate upheaval’.



In 1991, Joll rose from the ashes of the company’s Corporate

Communications period as head of Georgeson UK. Two years later he joined

Kleinwort Benson Securities to set up a corporate broking division but,

by last summer the marriage was coming to an end and he asked for an

internal transfer. Instead a lucrative redundancy followed.



‘At this point I reviewed my life,’ says Joll, ‘I had set up my own

company but I didn’t want to take too many risks as I’d also become the

sole investor in The Room - a Knightsbridge shop selling UK-designed

jewellery and glassware.’



When headhunted by The Communication Group, Joll says his initial

reaction was to turn the job down. However an arrangement was reached

whereby Joll sold TCG ‘the majority of my company’s time’. The

relationship ended in May 1996 with an ongoing legal dispute.



At Focus Joll is tasked with developing new business and managing

existing clients. ‘I’ve already had a pitch and there’s two more in the

pipeline,’ he enthuses.



Andrew Dowler director of Financial Dynamics, and a colleague of Joll

during his Paragon stint, says of him: ‘He’s one of the most energetic

people I’ve ever worked with.’



But another former colleague questions his ability to focus: ‘He has

undoubtedly strong presentation skills but needs very clear guidance and

objectives to be set.’



‘That’s fair comment,’ says Joll. ‘When there’s nothing to do I tend to

do nothing. I need deadlines.’



What moulds his philosophy of life? Joll suddenly becomes serious: ‘I

lost a close friend who had the world in his hands. This taught me that

life isn’t a rehearsal. My worst fear is not getting enough out of it,

but you’ve also got to put enough in.’



Joll’s professional ambition is now job satisfaction: ‘Eventually I’d

like to be a part-time consultant, but what gets me up in the morning

now is coming into an office of like-minded people and dealing with

senior clients on an equal footing.’



He says the appeal of Focus is that it’s a young company in both senses.

‘City PR is not a game for the elderly and I’ll do it while I still have

the energy - another five years at least.’



HIGHLIGHTS



1986 Head of corporate affairs, United Scientific Holdings

1988 Managing director, Charles Barker City

1991 Chief executive, Georgeson UK

1993 Director of corporate finance, Kleinwort Benson Securities

1995 Director, The Communication Group

1996 Head of IR, Focus Communications



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