Paul Holmes 10 May 2018 // 7:50AM GMT
AMSTERDAM—Julia Harrison has been running consultancies since the age of 23, working in three major political capitals—Washington, DC; London; and Brussels—and building two of the most successful firms in the EU public affairs realm—a track record of accomplishment that earns her our SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.
After working in a DC think tank and briefly in the European Parliament as an assistant, she “stumbled across” public affairs and government relations consulting in DC, then returned to the UK and got into the fledgling business as it emerged as a serious practice. She soon began working on European issues and moved to Brussels in 1989 to establish a presence there for Fleishman Hillard, which quickly established itself among the market leaders.
She headed the company’s European public affairs business and sitting on the global public affairs board for 16 years, before leaving in 2002 and launching her own consultancy, along with partners Louise Harvey and Sue Couldery.
Blueprint Partners grew rapidly based on a simple philosophy of understanding clients’ businesses rather than looking at European projects in isolation, on keeping higher levels of senior people working for clients, and on understanding the international realm rather than delivering an EU-only perspective.
Blueprint sold to FTI Consulting in 2008, combining public affairs with a broader business consulting offer and seeing Harrison partner with colleagues who ranged from economists and business transformation to technology and forensic litigation experts. Combining with the capital markets expertise of FTI’s recently acquired Financial Dynamics, FTI Consulting Brussels grew to a team of 70 and is now a market leader with significant sector capabilities in financial service, energy and industrials, TMT and health along with antitrust, M&A, trade and corporate reputation expertise.
In an interview last year, Harrison explained the focus of her work: “Globalisation has to some extent brought to the surface tension between citizens on the one hand and their political leaders and the business community on the other. Technological change, for example, is creating massive opportunities, new business models. But it’s also creating challenges for communities and individuals.
“The biggest challenge is how to break out of entrenched positions and find creative and collaborative ways to address the underlying issues. How can business turn “social purpose” into a reality and demonstrate that thriving commercially with a new business model can be beneficial for society?”
She was named a global leader in consulting for 2017 by Consulting magazine, prompting FTI Consulting president and CEO Steven Gunby to praise her contribution to the firm: “Her leadership and client service on high-profile and complex regulatory and political challenges are well known by industry organisations, peers and—most important—clients. Her strength in leadership and teaming has been key to FTI Consulting growing one of the most successful global public affairs practices and developing our next generation of leaders.”
Harrison is currently senior managing director at FTI, spending as much time as ever with clients and developing the team. She sits on the firm’s global strat comms steering committee and the cross segment European leadership team. She has held various non-executive director and leadership roles including at SustainAbility, a privately held UK and US think tank and consulting firm. And she has been involved in the Women’s Forum for Economy and Society since the outset in 2005.
She will receive her award at our upcoming SABRE Awards ceremony in Amsterdam on the evening of May 23. Tickets for both the SABRE Awards dinner and the same day's In2Summit are available here.