Zoe Sheppard, who was recently appointed head of press office at professional services company KPMG UK, talks to Gorkana about her new role, her aspirations for her team and why campaigning for diversity with KPMG’s vice chair was a career highlight.
From a comms standpoint, what are the advantages of working for a major brand like KPMG?
The scale of the firm can really help. We’re home to some really niche experts so if a journalist needs a briefing or wants someone to pull numbers for them, we can normally find the right team or person. One of the teams I sit near speaks more than 30 languages between them – we’re home to a talented bunch.
What are your ambitions for the new role?
My main priority is to support the team and help them to achieve their ambitions in their own careers, and offer them the right opportunities.
I’d also like to see us be more creative, and shift to offering more immediate analysis on breaking issues, which would complement the more in depth reports we do.
Do you have any tips for managing a comms team?
Take advice. My colleagues give me a lot of feedback on what’s working, what’s not and share the ideas they have, which I find invaluable. I am also very lucky to have our head of comms to turn to. We’ve worked together for many years and I trust her instincts implicitly.
What, do you think, will be the big issues affecting your role in 2017?
They are the same issues affecting our clients – so the impact of geopolitical and economic events on business and the UK economy, and how we respond as a firm to these.
What are KPMG’s long term communications goals?
Ultimately we need to help the firm win work and establish its reputation in areas with the biggest commercial opportunity, and our PR strategy has to deliver this.
However, I also want us to talk about the incredible achievements of our people and the work we do in our business to be more inclusive. We do so much, but are very modest about sharing our achievements with the wider world.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Working with our vice chair Melanie Richards to increase the representation of women in business. KPMG hosted the launch of the Davies Review and Hampton-Alexander Review with academia and ministers, and it was inspiring to see so many business leaders gather to share their experiences and challenge each other to make great progress.
As well as her work to help other businesses, Melanie also pioneered the introduction of diversity targets in our own firm. She is a great source of support and encouragement, both to me and many others in the firm.