THE CORPORATE
AFFAIRS DIFFERENCE

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People now expect more from companies and leaders. In this era of stakeholder capitalism, 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 purpose, narrative and trust 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 three parts to the Ithaca offer:

  • We find brilliant corporate affairs directors – usually at C suite level.
  • We work across borders with international partners – because talent is everywhere.
  • We run the Ithaca Centre for Corporate Affairs Leadership – dedicated to the profession.

Alex Gordon Shute, Founder

QUALITY
NOT QUANTITY

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QUALITY
NOT QUANTITY

Alex Gordon Shute, Founder

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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 filled by intelligent, commercially savvy, 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 are experts in trust and step into this arena as ambassadors and 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.

THE MAGIC,
BOTTLED

Alex Cole,
Ithaca Centre for Corporate Affairs Leadership

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THE MAGIC,
BOTTLED

Alex Cole,
Ithaca Centre for Corporate Affairs Leadership

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Yes there are ‘naturals’ but we also believe that corporate affairs is a science as well as an art. It’s a ‘corporate muscle’ which – as standard – needs to be excellent. The Ithaca Centre for Corporate Affairs Leadership bottles everything we have learned.

Its mission is to make corporate affairs better – encouraging, training, teaching and inspiring a consistent cohort of outstanding leaders for the discipline, so that we establish standards of excellence which are universally accepted as ‘what great corporate affairs looks like’.

TALENT WITHOUT
BORDERS

Seri Davies, Executive Search & Interim

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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