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Steve Atkinson

Stephen Atkinson, a partner at Hawthorn, leads the financial services practice, specialising in advising clients on financial and corporate communications.

He focuses on guiding individuals, in house teams, Boards/CEOs and leaders on reputation, deal flow, fund raisings, narrative building, corporate relations, stakeholder management and crisis management activities. He works with a broad range of clients including retail banks, fintech companies, private equity, private debt, asset management and corporate advisory companies. As is the norm at Hawthorn, Stephen also consciously works with a variety on non-financial companies and not-for-profit organisations to ensure our clients benefit from the broadest possible range of experience.

Prior to joining Hawthorn, Stephen worked at Standard Chartered Bank where he held a variety of leadership and communications roles including Group Head, Investor Relations and Communications and then served as the Group’s Corporate Affairs Director for five years with responsibilities for all communications activities of the Bank including media, investor relations, internal communications, public affairs, sustainability, reputational risk management and brand management. Stephen also served as the Regional Head of Private Banking for the AMEA region and as the Group’s Chief of Staff.

Sarah-Jane Wakefield

Sarah-Jane Wakefield leads our Employee Communication and Engagement practice at Hawthorn. She specialises in helping leaders and organisations across all sectors navigate the complex and rapidly changing nature of work while nurturing an engaging and productive environment for employees to thrive in.

With over 20 years of experience spanning complex and culturally diverse portfolios and organisations, Sarah-Jane is an experienced strategic and trusted c-suite advisor. She provides honest, constructive, and when needed challenging counsel, and works collaboratively and seamlessly with clients and their teams. With the use of data, insights, her knowledge, experience, and passion Sarah-Jane is committed to helping leaders and companies to thrive. Her focus is on enhancing brand and reputation from the inside out by driving employee engagement through trust, empowerment, inclusion, and communication.

Before joining Hawthorn, Sarah-Jane’s previous roles include Standard Chartered Bank, HM Treasury, and the Bank of England. She has advised FTSE 100 companies, multinationals, c-suites, Bank of England Governors, and government leaders across all aspects of corporate communications. She is a trusted expert for driving employee communication, empowering global large-scale employee engagement, organisational behaviour change, cultural transformation, leadership communications, and CEO transitions.

Sarah-Jane has a keen interest in leadership and believes strongly in professional development. She holds an MBA in Communications and Leadership from Quadriga University in Berlin, a Masters in Health Education and Promotion, and a BA in journalism. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications and an Accredited Practitioner of the Chartered Institute of PR.

Outside of work, Sarah-Jane enjoys the great outdoors with George – her Miniature Schnauzer, strength training, travelling, and is a regular at her local cinema.