MAY 2023
Letter from the Editor
Caroline Scotter Mainprize
2 min read
April 12
Welcome to the Information issue – and to The Chief of Staff journal’s new digital format.
Information is the lifeblood of any organisation. It is also central to the role of chief of staff, who is typically responsible, not only for gathering information, but for understanding, curating, prioritising, and communicating it – both ‘upwards’, to the leadership team, and also in all other directions both internally and externally.
This issue offers a range of different perspectives and ideas, all of which are rooted in the general theme of information. But inevitably our contributors have branched out, touching on a wide range of skills and perhaps unexpected tasks: all part of a day’s work for a chief of staff.
Our foreword is by Jean Becker, who was chief of staff for US President George H. W. Bush. She offers salient and sympathetic advice to all chiefs of staff from years of experience in what must be one of the most complex and high-pressured roles of all.
One of the first challenges of dealing with information, of course, is knowing whether you can trust it. Dr Charlotte Farmer, Chief Operating Officer of UL Research Institutes, introduces her own method of ‘source triangulation’ to ensure that her recommendations are backed by the best possible evidence.
Eric Nehrlich, a former chief of staff at Google and now an executive coach, argues that information is only the first step: the real job of the chief of staff is using it to create organisational alignment, orienting the team around what matters most. Alignment is also discussed by Rashmi Verma, General Manager of Strategy and New Business at HarperCollins publishers in India, who delves into the important concept of systems thinking and explains how to look beyond the obvious to understand what is really going on in an organisation.
Alexander Middleton, Special Projects Manager within the Freight division at Network Rail in the UK, brings these ideas together in an exploration of the fascinating area of special projects ‒ organisations within organisations that call on all the diplomatic and practical skills of a chief of staff.
Looking beyond the organisation itself, we have two articles that deal with aspects of its relationship with external stakeholders. Bill McGowan of Clarity Media writes about how to present information to your principal when preparing them for media interviews. And Kai Miller, Chief Creative Officer at Emerald One, picks up on the modern trend of corporate activism and offers advice on ensuring authenticity.
We profile James Copsey, who, as Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at KPMG in Australia, worked through the challenges of the COVID pandemic, characterized at first by a lack of information, then multiple waves of new and conflicting information. Our second profile is of Lucy Reeve, Chief of Staff of the Halo Trust. She describes a multi-faceted and purpose-driven organisation working ‘at the nexus of defence, diplomacy and development’, with complex communication and information needs.
Author Bio
Caroline Scotter Mainprize
Chief Editor
Caroline is a writer, editor, and communications advisor, working mostly for organisations involved in research and education. Clients have included Oxford University Press, Saïd Business School, Bayes Business School, and the international development and publishing organisation CABI. She has edited a number of books, annual reports, and journals, and written practitioner-focused research reports, including Oxford’s The Museum Leaders Report and Understanding Chief Digital Officers.Before freelancing she was responsible for the corporate communications at Oxford University Press. She had previously worked for a London PR consultancy and as a journalist on a business newspaper.