Alex Gordon Shute
Founder

THE CORPORATE
AFFAIRS DIFFERENCE

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People now expect more from companies and leaders. It’s no longer enough just to maximise returns, you also have to articulate a vision, tell your story, be a good corporate citizen and a trustee of the finite resources of our planet.

Here, at the intersection of narrative, mission and reputation is where brilliant corporate affairs directors make their difference.

Ithaca only works with and for the best corporate affairs directors. We are purists, specialists. We love the people (we think they are a breed apart) and we love the discipline too: since we started work in 2008 we have done our bit to help to shape it. There are now four parts to the Ithaca offer:

We find brilliant corporate affairs directors – usually at C suite level. Our consultancy supports them to build winning departments and deliver success. We have put everything we have learned into our gold-standard executive education. We work across borders with international partners – because talent is everywhere.

QUALITY
NOT QUANTITY

Lucinda Armitage
Executive Search & Interim

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Almost every company will tell you that talent is their most valuable asset. So it makes sense to put time and resources into finding the right corporate affairs leaders. But this is never a numbers game and a large database is not nearly as valuable as a good personal introduction. There is simply no point in meeting lots of the wrong people. Ithaca is about finding the very best people: we are about quality not quantity.

We think corporate affairs is the most exciting role in any organisation. Increasingly it’s being filled by intelligent, empathetic, creative, resilient people who deal every day with the most contested dialogues their companies face – Covid, climate, inequality, you name it.

Great corporate affairs directors step into this arena as ambassadors and they become catalysts for change. They are highly visible, they set the tone and shape the narrative for the whole organisation; the best performers become role models in their sectors. We are lucky enough to count many of the most successful corporate affairs professionals among our friends.

A few years ago The Economist ran their rule over traditional headhunters. They found that eighteen months after being placed, only 45% of candidates were still in their roles. Just think about that for a second – the sheer misallocation of time and resources. At Ithaca our comparable figure is 97%.

We find and introduce the best corporate affairs people for major listed companies, public bodies, regulators, private companies, membership organisations and PE backed ventures – in sectors from energy to architecture, from finance to culture. We also help fill interim roles including for maternity cover and one-off transformation projects.

Together we help you define precisely what you need in the role… then we work to filter the market, so that you meet people where they’d be outstanding in the role – of course – but also where there’s vital chemistry and the right cultural fit. It’s a dance that depends as much on emotional intelligence as data. There is no substitute for deep experience of successfully matching people to organisations.

OF THE FUNCTION
FOR THE FUNCTION

Sarah Larvor
Capability Development

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It’s often said that corporate affairs is an art as well as a science. There’s truth in that but after nearly twenty years of finding and placing high performing corporate affairs directors and watching them succeed, we have more than an inkling of what they have in common. We put all that knowledge and experience into our consulting practice which, put very simply, helps corporate affairs directors deliver.

We call it ‘Capability Development’: it encompasses personal coaching, building a winning team, setting the right targets and providing a toolkit for best practice across talent development, polling, message testing, data and insight.

Because the first year is critical we often work with corporate affairs directors as they come into post, helping them create the right structures, operating models and culture in their teams and across the organisation, so building crucial momentum.

Importantly, because we work across the discipline and in multiple sectors, we can help you benchmark and measure your impact – setting the right success metrics and defining what high performance looks like. Our consultants help empower corporate affairs directors and help them win.

Laura Williams
Capability Development

THE MAGIC, BOTTLED

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Yes there are ‘naturals’ but we also believe that everyone can learn best practice and improve their corporate affairs skills. During the pandemic, with a bit more time on our hands, we decided to bottle everything we had learned in the field and put it all into a short, intensive course of meaningful and practical executive education: The Ithaca Corporate Affairs Leadership Programme.

This brand new programme is being led by renowned psychologists Zoe Peach and Matt Brown, distinguished leadership coach Jane Kirton and corporate trust guru Basil Towers. The Ithaca team will also drop in to contribute to relevant sessions. We are covering personal leadership and business acumen but, critically we are also getting deep into corporate affairs craft skills.

Our very first cohort – think astronauts not guinea pigs – is signed up for January 2022. It promises to be an enlightening and, because we are all corporate affairs people, a lively meeting of minds. The aim for participants is to help turn potential into performance. Ultimately we want to create the industry standard diploma for our discipline of corporate affairs. It fits squarely with Ithaca’s core mission: to help develop the next generation of corporate affairs directors.

TALENT WITHOUT
BORDERS

Seri Davies
Executive Search & Interim

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It’s a long time since investing in the FTSE meant only investing in the UK. Like the Premier League, the FTSE is now a wildly global game – so finding and supporting talent means having reach all over the world.

At Ithaca we only partner with brother and sister companies who share our ethos and our absolute focus on quality. In the US Mike Patino leads Patino Associates and we work closely with Mike on shared projects while extending our reach into that huge and exciting marketplace. In the Netherlands we partner with the redoubtable Herman Rutgers.

In France we speak to the brilliant Kim Johnson at Exeter Search and in Ireland Susie Farrell is the inspiring leader of Addison Search.

We are continuing to broaden our international coverage all the time – because talent can come from anywhere.

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OUR NAME

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The island of Ithaca was Odysseus’s home in ancient Greece, which he left to fight the Trojan War. His journey home became, of course, the mighty epic of the Odyssey. Everything we do is about helping people love the journey, even as they keep their focus on the destination. Back when we were just a start up, C.P. Cavafy’s poem, Ithaka, spoke to us deeply – it still does.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery…
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
From Ithaka
C.P. Cavafy