Leslie McGibbon | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations

Leslie McGibbon

Global Head of Communications and Public Affairs
AkzoNobel
@LeslieMcG

Since joining Dutch MNC AkzoNobel last year, Leslie McGibbon has embarked on an ambitious restructuring of its corporate communications operation, in a bid to support the company’s attempts to behave less like a holding company for its various brands (which include Dulux), and more like an operating company with its own brand. McGibbon’s efforts, which are still underway, involve a number of new departments within a newly-centralised communications function, focusing on such areas as content, creative, planning and social listening. 

This initiative reflects McGibbon’s modern approach to his communications mandate, which includes a realtime focus on content, and a more purpose-led approach to its stakeholder engagement. Prior to joining AkzoNobel, McGibbon spent several years in senior roles at GSK and IHG. 

Notable career highlight? 
Getting my first break in PR for Stakis Hotels in Scotland, launching a restaurant. It put me in contact with Alex Pagett (Head of Corporate Affairs at Stakis and former Government Communications Supremo). He has helped me ever since...

What is the most rewarding/challenging aspect about a career in communications/marketing?
Having the privilege to change how companies are perceived in the outside world while developing the culture within a company, affecting the lives of thousands of people. It is a privilege which must be respected every day.

What skills/experience will the CCO of the future need that may not be required today?
The basics will remain. Good business sense, sound judgment and the ability to be the corporate conscience, while supporting the business. Excellent People development skills will also continue to be crucial. Increasingly a focus on measurement and impact will help the industry/CCO of the future as it continues to develop in the years to come.

What skill/experience is required of today's CCO that might not be as relevant in the future?
As I say above, the constants remain however I do fear for the future of the press release...!

Who or what inspires you to be your best? 
Very few roles are given the access or invitation to impact, at scale, large corporations (working as closely as we do with the ExCo and CEO). This can range from the external brand perception of a business to the culture of the company or the role the business plays in society. On top of that, I am lucky enough to have a team full of people who inspire me every day with their energy, creativity and enthusiasm. Not sure you need any more inspiration than that...

What is on your must-read/view/listen to list? 
The BBC website and my playlists on Spotify (mainly all house music). I have to also admit being a secret addict to the Daily Mail celebrity news banner....it's hard to avoid thesedays...

Most interesting place you've traveled to?
China and Argentina for very different reasons. I also have to say the Netherlands. We have lived here for almost a year now and it is an unbelievably great place to live!