90 seconds with…Will McSheehy, Head of Communications for Global Commercial Banking at HSBC

interview marketing leaders


Tom Morgan-Harris, Associate Director or our Corporate Affairs practice, caught up with Will McSheehy to talk about all things financial services marketing and take a look back at his impressive career in the sector.

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Do broaden your skills whenever you can. Don’t let yourself go stale through over-reliance on the talents you brought to your current role. Communications, public affairs and marketing are defined and configured differently in every firm, so the wider your experience of the various sub-disciplines, the better placed you are to seize new opportunities.

What future opportunities do you think marketing and communications will create over the next five years?

Interesting that you ask what opportunities we’ll create rather than what we’ll capitalise on. The latter’s an easier question to answer. It involves promoting greater ESG standards, engaging a workforce that’s likely to be more geographically fragmented than it was pre-Covid, and expressing purpose and values to customers who will increasingly demand them as a condition of sale. I hope we’ll create new ways to do these things effectively and new ways to measure and evidence them to our clients.

What is your most trusted news source?

I’ve had the privilege of working for the FT twice in my career and so feel particularly comfortable with them. US media like Bloomberg News and the WSJ are also impressively disciplined.

What has had the most influential impact on your leadership career and why?

The leaders I’ve worked with have shaped how I lead. I try to emulate those who set high standards without being overbearing, who get results without micro-managing and who value team camaraderie. I’ve seen this done really well and I’ve seen what happens when it isn’t done well.

What is your biggest takeaway from covid19?

To answer your question literally, it’s that we humans are excellent at cooperating on a local level but still have a long way go on international cooperation – even in pressing matters of mutual self-interest! From a professional perspective, it’s been fascinating to discover just how effectively good teams can operate remotely for a prolonged period of time. Demand for what we do as communicators is at a record high, and I think we’re showing our value to the boardroom.

How are you planning for 2021 and beyond?

I’m planning for everything to be virtual while hoping that some of it can become physical later this year. With the professional media in some disarray, now is a great time to maximise use of social media and owned channels. It’s also a great time to invest in creative ways to engage with employees, who yearn for a break from repetitive Zoom calls.

What career advice would you now give to yourself 10 years ago?

Don’t sweat the small stuff or let hierarchies form barriers.

What’s the toughest interview question you’ve ever asked or been asked?

I doubt anyone enjoys answering questions about their weaknesses, or describing what their critics would say about them. They’re tough because they’re good questions though.

Who is your business hero and why?

Anyone who has set up and who runs their own business has my sincere admiration. To be able to get others to work with you on your idea, to invest in your idea, and to buy the fruit of your idea, shows fantastic tenacity, courage and powers of persuasion.


tml Partners is an international executive marketing and corporate affairs recruitment firm specialising in board level appointments across marketing, business development and corporate communications. Tom Morgan-Harris is currently partnering with high growth clients to support the best in class development of the corporate affairs functions across the globe.

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