What skills do you need to take your communication career to the next level? In this Q&A, CW Senior Editor Jessica Burnette-Lemon asks Richard S. Marshall, global managing director of the corporate affairs practice of executive search and talent management consultancy Korn Ferry International to weigh in on the topic. He leads the firm’s worldwide specialty practice that focuses on executive search and leadership advisory work in corporate communication, investor relations and government affairs. His clients and placements include the chief communication and investor relations officers at some of the largest and best-known brands in the world, including Alibaba, PepsiCo, the National Football League (NFL), NASCAR, Sanofi, and Walmart, among other Fortune Global 500 organizations.
Marshall has more than a dozen years of experience in search and advisory work, as well as 20-plus years of in-house communication and public affairs leadership roles. As a communication practitioner, his roles included holding the Chief Communications Officer title, reporting to CEOs at The Home Depot, Silicon Graphics (SGI), and Subaru of America, where he counseled the C-Suite and led global teams across all communication disciplines.
Jessica Burnette-Lemon: What skills do you find employers prize most in communication professionals and executives?
Richard Marshall: It depends upon the level of the role we are working on, but generally speaking there are two skills we hear in almost every search assignment: business acumen and problem solving. If the role is a direct report to the chief communication officer (CCO), typically we hear that writing and critical thinking/problem solving skills are at the top of the list regardless of the specific role.
If our assignment is for a CCO (No. 1 role) reporting to the CEO, the game shifts and we hear that having business acumen and leadership skills are the most important....
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