PR firm Weber Shandwick launches management consultancy wing

13 November 2018 5 min. read
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New York-based public relations firm Weber Shandwick has launched a management consulting wing, United Minds. A fusion of the business intelligence unit of Swedish firm Prime (acquired in 2014) and Weber’s Engagement and Change Management practice, United Minds will deliver end-to-end transformation solutions.

It’s no secret that professional services firms are increasingly drawn to the big ticket fees and diverse opportunities of management consulting. The Big Four, traditionally accounting networks, have continually shifted more resources – and realized increasingly larger proportions of their revenues – from the consulting field. The fact that companies are being increasingly pressured to digitally ‘transform’ to take advantage of new technologies is further heating up the consulting industry, as consultants continue to bolster their digital capabilities to advise those client transformations.

Adjacent professional services firms like law firms have been enticed into the consulting world, expanding their services outward from their traditional spheres. International law firm Allen & Overy recently launched a business consulting unit, seeking to slake client thirst for business advice in the regulatory arena. Meanwhile, law firm HFW also launched a consulting outfit this year, with a much broader offering – including HR, technology, cybersecurity, risk, and communications services.

Now, one of the world’s leading public relations firms – Intergroup-owned Weber Shandwick – has formally launched its own business consulting unit. When Weber acquired Swedish PR firm Prime in 2014, it also took in that company’s business intelligence unit United Minds. Weber has now fused its Employee Engagement & Change Management practice with the management consultancy talent of United Minds. The new consultancy unit will also incorporate recently launched CultureShift, which advises clients in the midst of radical change, including mergers and restructuring. The new United Minds, which consists of a team of 60 people in Europe and North America, will combine data-informed strategy and communications expertise to deliver better change management solutions.PR firm Weber Shandwick launches management consultancy wingWhen other professional services firms branch into consulting, they argue that they can deliver better results in a specific area based on their long-standing expertise in, for example, law. Allen & Overy believe they can deliver better regulatory consulting based on their in-depth legal knowledge. Similarly, Weber Shandwick believe they can deliver better change management services through their deployment of deep communications know-how.

"Successful transformation, at its core, requires a vision that people can believe in,” commented Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky. “United Minds has a unique ability to deliver successful transformation because we help define the change necessary to drive business results, align key stakeholders around a common vision, and then execute creative communications programs that change hearts and minds."

The new consultancy unit will leverage a talent pool of strategists, data scientists, and management consultants – as well as Weber’s extensive network of communications and creative experts, which stretches across 79 cities. United Minds will be led by the former head of Weber’s Engagement and Change practice, Kate Bullinger, who was previously a partner at Mercer Delta Consulting.

"Companies today are dealing with a pace and scale of change like never before,” Bullinger said. “Whether it’s managing through a merger or restructuring, aligning leadership and employees around a new business strategy, or addressing cultural issues following a crisis, we'll partner with clients to deliver transformational programs that lead to lasting business results."

The former CEO of United Minds Sweden – Thomas Areskoug – will lead the global business strategy work for the new United Minds. Previously, Areskoug held senior leadership roles with supermarket chain Coop and eBay. Areskoug also previously worked as an Engagement Manager at prestigious strategy firm McKinsey & Company.

United Minds’ Industry Advisory Council includes an array of high-profile talent, including Alison Quirk, former CHRO of State Street; Don Spetner, Former EVP, Corporate Affairs and CMO at Korn/Ferry International; Gary Sheffer, Former CCO at General Electric; and Per Hallius, former head of BCG Sweden.

The transformation work of the consulting unit will extend beyond the traditional arena of communications, but nonetheless ties into Weber’s expertise in organizational change. "At Weber Shandwick our work has always been rooted in stakeholder engagement,” added Polansky. “From the leadership counsel provided by our corporate and change management experts, to our award-winning creative campaigns that inspire behavior change, we're able to engage stakeholders at every level of an organization to deliver on shared values, vision, and strategy."