• Financial / M&A Communications

    To communicate financial results, an investment or an acquisition requires specific advisory and communication skills.

  • Corporate Communications

    Corporate communications plays an important role in protecting and enhancing corporate and brand reputations.

  • Spokespersonship

    Spokespersonship does not start with the actual delivery of the message to the journalist. Preparations start much earlier.

  • Issues & Crisis Management

    If companies publicly communicate about issues or a crisis well, it protects them from further damaging their reputation.

  • Media Relations

    Companies that are used to only react to media enquiries start to see the benefits of communicating pro-actively and design a structured program.

  • Media Training, Messaging & Positioning

    There are many types of media training. I always have received very good feedback about an effective training which combines media management skills with Message House building.

  • Social Media and Content Management

    Content Management looks at how all earned, paid and owned communication channels are coordinated, for communication with different stakeholder target groups has to be in agreement.

  • Marketing / Brand PR

    Sponsorships of sports events, films or concerts are often a significant marketing investment for a company and therefore brands should aim for the support of a well organized unpaid PR program. 

My Experience in Global Financial Communications

Véronique Schyns, photo credits Dorina van der Graaff

Véronique Schyns, photo credits Dorina van der Graaff

I had the privilege to be an in-house advisor on why and how to communicate effectively business goals, strategies and related progress for stock listed and global companies for many years. My extensive experience of directly advising CEOs, CFOs and CMOs, enables me to add value to your management and company.

My education in business and communication has benefited tremendously from in particular my last 15 years working at head offices of international businesses. My expertise is best described as Global Financial Communications and covers the area where Investor Relations meets Corporate Communications.

With a Master’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Utrecht (1991), I have worked during 4 years at a translation agency. At American connector and cable manufacturer Amphenol, I started working in Sales for Spain & Portugal and then created a position for myself as Marketing Communications manager Europe, working closely with my peers in the UK, France and Germany. 

 

ABN AMRO

My education in Financial Communications started in 1998 at the head office of ABN AMRO, as a consultant in Marketing Communications of the Investment Banking division. Later, attracted by Strategic Communications and Reputation Management, I switched to the Corporate Press Office and became one of the press officers for the International and Investment Banking divisions. It proved to be a great place to learn.
It was the challenging time of the burst of the internet bubble and the disastrous World Online IPO in which the bank played a leading role. In 2000, it became world news that founder Nina Brink had sold part of her shares, well before the IPO and I had to explain why the prospectus had not clearly mentioned this.
During the “9/11” attacks, I stayed on the phone talking to journalists until late at night. It was also the period of the bank succession of CEOs, which is always a hectic and dynamic period of time in terms of presenting the new CEO and his strategy to the media.

 

Rabobank International

I continued to build seniority and experience in Financial Communications at the head office of Rabobank International, between 2002 and 2004, being amongst others the communication consultant for Rabo Securities, managing the Group’s financial results announcements and the financial PR agency in London.
Also at Rabobank I helped communicating the change of CEO leadership.

 

Examples Media Coverage Véronique Schyns

 

Heineken

At a marketing driven company like Heineken, my international experience in Sales & Marketing Communications combined with Financial Communications, proved to be very useful. During the time that I was at the Company’s head office, between 2004 and 2011, the company was extremely active on the M&A market and I was fortunate to be right in the middle of it as a member of the core acquisition team, consisting of Business Development, Legal, Finance, Investor Relations and advisor Credit Suisse First Boston. The team was responsible for a number of transformational, multi-billion euro deals, such as Scottish & Newcastle (UK, Portugal, Finland and Belgium), FEMSA (Mexico, Brazil, USA), United Breweries (leading brewer in India), and a string of ‘smaller’ deals in Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and Asia. I have drafted announcements, key messages, expected questions and answers, story lines and media briefings, counseled senior management and organised and actively participated in press conferences and media events in different parts of the world.

 

Heineken – Highlights

One of the most exciting times was when The Wall Street Journal called me about the deal with FEMSA. I was in New York, where the final negotiations with FEMSA took place and it was three days before the planned announcement of the acquisition. They had the story already!. You can imagine how this resulted in a race against the clock to close the deal and announce it at the start of the next day.
I enjoyed tremendously and learned a lot about the business while speaking to the CEO and the CFO during dinners and long travel schedules, speaking to regional and local top management, such as in the USA and in Africa, speaking to business journalists and financial analysts during interviews, results presentations, analysts and investors roadshows and Capital Markets Days held in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Miami and Seville.
Quite impressive I found my visit to Nigerian Breweries, the leading brewer in this large country, with a Dutch TV crew for interviews with the local Managing Director.
Of course I will never forget the high standards that had to be met for every Board interview or results press conference. Together with the Director of Investor Relations I prepared all documents and counselled the CEO and CFO in a dry run of the press and analyst conferences. Busy times, because my responsibilities were also the management of the press conference itself and all international media.
A particularly remarkable press conference was the one with CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer and Dr. Vijay Mallya, owner of UBL, regarding the acquisition of a shareholding and partnership in the Indian company. Another remarkable event was being introduced to King Carlos of Spain, during the opening event of the brand new Seville brewery.

 

Heineken – Pro-active International Financial Media Programme

One of my other responsibilities was creating, managing and executing a pro-active international financial media programme. As part of this programme, I built relations with many global journalists. On the content side, I helped bringing together marketing, corporate and financial stories, in order to educate influential business media about the company, its growth strategy, its markets and its brands. It was a challenge and fun to convince and help senior management to play their role in the programme. Overall it was extremely rewarding to have been instrumental in the turnaround from being a reactive to a pro-active communication company.
As an example, I helped to communicate the launch of Heineken Light beer in the USA, a story to be positioned in a balanced way as a core part of the Heineken Corporate and Financial story. It was a fantastic experience to work with Board Member Marc Bolland, global and USA marketing teams and bringing business journalists to the launch event on Times Square in NYC.
Examples where I brought financial journalists and Corporate Marketing and Innovation Directors together to discuss global sponsoring investments or Innovations are: UEFA Champions League, Rugby World Cup, US Open (tennis), BeerTender and DraughtKeg home dispenser product launches, opening of branded airport bars, and the Culture Bière bar and club on the Avenue des Champs Élysées, Paris.

 

Heineken – Issues & Crisis Management

Next to all events mentioned above, there were many issues and crisis in different sizes and categories. Apart from product recalls and legal disputes, a large European Commission fine, cost cutting programmes and brewery closures, I was advisor, spokesperson and part of the crisis team of the tragic shooting of a top manager in La Reunión; Another example is managing the impact of a report by the UK broker Cazenove, announcing that the CEO would be forced to step down soon, which was released on the morning of the results announcement.
During my time at Heineken there was a CEO change and a complete change of the Group’s leadership. I was privileged to have been in the core advisory team and trusted to execute agreed strategies.

 

Robeco Group

In 2011, I joined asset manager Robeco, amongst others to assist the company to communicate in a more structured and effective way, to be more pro-active, to create more visibility for the Board and to professionalise and internationalise the Communications function.
I further broadened my experience and skills in Media Management and Messaging, building on the messaging expertise gained at Heineken, helping Robeco with its corporate positioning and Thought Leadership in responsible investing. The many individual and group training sessions have given me a lot of insight in the asset management business and its challenges.
Another important project was helping the company making the change to a content management organisation and how best to apply and align owned, paid, earned and social media activities.
During my time at Robeco, my international experience further extended to cities like Hong Kong, Dubai, Boston and Madrid and I gained new experiences from being a member of the CEO Management Team and senior manager in the company.

 

Robeco Group – Sold by Rabobank to the Japanse Orix Group

The process of the sale of the company by Rabobank was very exciting and I have been fortunate to be part of it. Especially, it was a new challenge to manage alignment of the communication between the owner, the CEO, clients, staff and global and local media. In addition, I came up with a strategy to turn unfavourable media sentiment about the company into favourable sentiment. These challenges have been met successfully and added substantially to my knowledge and confidence.

Going forward, I aim to be a loyal, knowledgeable and experienced advisor and executor with an eye, not only for the broader picture but also for the details, to anybody who may benefit from my expertise in Global Financial Communications.

 

Véronique Schyns

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by Véronique Schyns