In Conversation – Jon Higgins

Jon Higgins, CEO, International, Ketchum speaks with Shree Lahiri about Ketchum’s future plans, India plans and more…

RT: Recently, in the international arena, Ketchum revamped its leadership with a new Global Council. How has this taken off?

JH: Yes, in June, we announced the appointment of the Global Leadership Council, transforming the agency’s senior leadership team to bring new voices and perspectives to best service clients, drive business performance worldwide and set the agency’s strategic agenda. The aim is to enhance our value to clients by broadening our leadership group to include leaders who have tremendous experience spearheading our biggest and most successful client engagements, building entrepreneurial ventures, innovating new products and services for clients, and fostering a deeply rooted culture of collaboration.

I’m pleased to report the GLC has come together with enthusiasm and purpose under the leadership of our Chairman and CEO Rob Flaherty and agency President Barri Rafferty. The 20-member team (10 women, 10 men) is focused on what our clients need to be successful in their businesses, what our people need to build fulfilling careers, and which innovations we should initiate as together we reimagine the future of communications.

RT: How would you describe the international phase of your career? Where do you see yourself going?

JH: Your question made me stop and think about it, but if I’m doing the math right the so-called “international phase” of my career is now actually more than half of my total career so, I guess it’s no longer a phase. I love the constant challenge of international business, the diversity of thought and all the opportunity.

RT: How do you view Ketchum’s India presence?

JH: I couldn’t be more proud of my colleagues at Ketchum Sampark. It is a thriving, growing operation that is highly respected by our clients of long standing for the effectiveness of our work. The leadership team, led by NS and Bela Rajan, proves every day that to bring the highest value to clients you need to live, instill and protect the highest values of integrity and collaboration among your people.

RT: In April this year, you had announced that Ketchum Sampark is planning to launch its Change Management services in India in the next 3 to 6 months. What is the status today?

JH: With many corporates coping with the challenges of change, as they get bigger through mergers and acquisitions or because of shift in focus of business or management styles, we believe there is a huge market in India. Responding to the demands of many of our clients we are in the process of putting together a team to offer change management services.

RT: India continues to be a high growth market for you. Please comment?

JH: The Indian PR business has shown steady growth and I see it set to continue to grow at a healthy rate. With a changing media landscape and an enhanced service offering to meet client’s requirements, PR is going to play a larger role in our clients’ reputation needs.

I think growth will come from every segment, for instance, the BFSI sector is going through massive transformation leading to new opportunities like mobile payments, small banks, fintech, which are all new areas. We have had acquisitions in the past and, in future will see more mergers with resultant demand for change management. With the spread of social media, the need for crisis communications and issue management will only increase.

Really, as I said at PRAXIS, this is a golden era. Predictive analytics, VR, AI … the powerful effect our work can have on societal issues. I think the only threat we have is less of us. We’re in a time of transformational change.

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Reputation Today is India’s only print magazine for Public Relations and Corporate Communications professionals. It is the official magazine of PRAXIS - India’s largest offsite summit for Public Relations and Corporate Communications.

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