Ed Walsh | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
Ed-Walsh

Ed Walsh 

Global head of integrated communications 
Philips 
 
Edward Walsh was appointed to lead the global integrated communications function for Philips International in August 2014, replacing longtime CCO Andre Manning as the company sought to update its positioning and focus on solutions rather than products. 

He had previously spent eight years with global public affairs firm APCO Worldwide, most recently serving as managing director of the firm’s European region and leading some of APCO’s largest multi-office client accounts. The move marked a return to the client side of the business for Walsh, who earlier in his career spent more than a decade in corporate communications with IBM, although over the course of his corporate and public affairs career he has accrued experience counseling on internal and external communications issues in the consumer goods, energy, information technology and healthcare sectors.  
 
Please share a notable career highlight. 
Hard to pick one, so let me give you three: Successful IPO of a Linux Software and Services on the Marché Libre of Euronext Paris in 2001, at the time of the dot.com bubble collapse. Very much cutting-edge in 1998, successful roll-out of a new, personalized IBM intranet across 24 markets in EMEA. The establishment of a fully integrated global communications function at Philips in under a year, in the midst of the separation of the company's historical Lighting business and its refocus on the health technology market.

What is the most rewarding/challenging aspect about a career in communications/marketing?
Earning the trust of senior business leaders and ability to influence beyond our traditional remit. Seeing the fruit of our labors, through high scores in reputation & trust rankings amongst other metrics.

What skills/experience will the CCO of the future need that may not be required today?
In-depth marketing and brand marketing competencies, as the distinction between earned and paid-for media continues to blur and because thought leadership / reputation building initiatives are increasingly expected to align more systematically with marketing strategies.

What skill/experience is required of today's CCO that might not be as relevant in the future?
I am a bit of a traditionalist as I firmly believe that a good CCO needs to master some of the basics: namely, excellent writing and presentation, media management and employee engagement competencies. It is not a question of disregarding traditional CCO skills; the challenge is to continually expand our skills.

Who or what inspires you to be your best? 
The job is all-consuming, often at the expense of family life, so the one thing I need to believe in is the Company's mission. I also need to respect and admire its business leaders. Suffice it to say that I have found my home at Philips.

What is on your must-read/view/listen to list? 
I could go all corporate here and wheel off a bunch of self-help books, but I view reading as an escape from my all too busy life. So other than reading The Economist, I love novels like Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo. As for music, depends on my mood, but my tastes range from Miles Davies' Kind of Blue, to classical baroque and house music!

Most interesting place you've traveled to?
India never ceases to amaze me but I have a soft spot for Japan.