Jon Iwata took over as head of IBM’s corporate communications department in 2002 and over the remainder of the decade emerged as a prototype for the public relations professional of the future: a strategic thinker with a grasp of branding and communications and a trusted advisor to management.
Iwata is responsible for worldwide communications for IBM. His organization includes media relations, industry analyst relations, executive and internal communications, shareholder communications and IBM's global intranet, which serves the company's 320,000 employees. In addition—and critically—his team is responsible for instilling IBM values into the company's practices and operations, a role that appears to recognize the important truth that reputation is built on behavior and that behavior is guided by organizational values.
Last year, Iwata was featured in Advertising Age as one of a handful of senior public relations professionals who have taken on added responsibility for marketing functions within their organizations, combining the skills needed to be a trusted advisor to senior management with an understanding of the importance of new media channels in building brand relationships.
Iwata is recognized as a pioneer in the use of new communications technologies, and IBM was an early adopter of social media to reach external audiences but more importantly internally to bring together people from around the organization and given them more input into the decision-making process.
Iwata is a trustee of the Arthur W. Page Society and co-chaired the taskforce that led to the 2007 publication of The Authentic Enterprise, a white paper that examined the drivers and implications of a rapidly changing context for 21st century business drawing on a survey of chief executive officers on the evolving role of corporations. He received the Society’s 2009 Hall of Fame Award.