It’s our people that make us stand out
From the beginning, Portland set itself the goal of bringing together the very best in the fields of politics, the media, government and consultancy.
We understand integration is the key to succeed and have recruited the most talented specialists from the consultancy and advisory world, and multi-lingual executives from the most prestigious institutions worldwide, to bring in a new layer of professionals.
Alongside our research, creative, digital designers, strategists, content and brand experts, we are confident that at Portland we are best placed to help clients achieve their objectives.
Our clients also benefit from the insight and experience of our Advisory Council who work with our senior management team — overseeing all aspects of our strategy and challenging us to ensure that we provide the best possible service to our clients, now and in the future.Interested in Joining Us?
James Ashton is a business writer, speaker and consultant.
He was City Editor and Executive Editor at the London Evening Standard and Independent titles and before that City Editor at The Sunday Times. He has covered some of the biggest economic and corporate stories of recent times.
Today he writes and speaks about topics including business, leadership, technology and investment. His podcast, Leading with James Ashton, features bosses from the worlds of business, charity, the arts and sport swapping stories about how they learnt to lead.
James is the author of The Nine Types of Leader (Kogan Page) and FTSE: The Inside Story (with Mark Makepeace, FTSE’s founding CEO) (Nicholas Brealey).
He is also a non-executive director of the FTSE250 investment trust Finsbury Growth & Income and chairman of Oscar’s Book Prize, a leading award in the world of young literature that encourages parents to read more with their children.
Educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Oxford, Nick has had a 34-year career in finance in the City of London most recently as Head of UK Investment Banking at Nomura. Prior to that, he held senior positions Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Bankers Trust/NatWest Markets, Goldman Sachs, and BZW. In these positions, he provided corporate finance advice to FTSE 100 companies and, prior to that, providing financial market advice to global investment institutions.
Nick is Chairman of Radix, a think tank for the radical centre and a Trustee of the Children’s Radio Foundation, an African based NGO enabling young Africans to make radio programmes.
Zoe Brennan has had a distinguished career as a national newspaper journalist with over twenty years’ experience on Fleet Street and in the Lobby.
She was Westminster Correspondent at The Sunday Times, European Correspondent at the Press Association, City Reporter at the Daily Express and previously a Senior Feature Writer for the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph. She also writes across a wide variety of publications from The Spectator to Tatler, and has worked as a ministerial speechwriter. Internationally, her work has been syndicated in outlets from Gulf News to The Washington Post.
She is a graduate of Oxford University where she read Geography and completed her post-graduate diploma in Journalism at City University.
Alastair, who was Tony Blair’s long-time Press Secretary and senior advisor, is one of the country’s foremost experts on leadership, communications and strategy.
A leading national newspaper journalist before he joined Mr Blair’s team on his election as Labour leader in 1994, he remained at his side for almost a decade.
He is credited with helping create New Labour and delivering two landslide election victories.
As the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary and later Director of Communications and Strategy, he was responsible for modernising the Government’s communications structures and approach.
He was involved in every area of policy, travelled extensively with Mr Blair and established close relations with many world leaders.
Since leaving Government, he has forged a successful career as an author, broadcaster, public speaker and advisor to senior business figures on leadership and strategy.
His accounts of his period with Mr Blair, recorded in his diaries, have been both best-sellers and critically acclaimed.
He has also found time to raise money and awareness for leukaemia and mental health charities as well as the Labour Party.
A passionate supporter of Burnley F.C., Alastair has advised athletes, sports organisations and clubs around the world on their communications strategies and reputation management.
Alastair joined Portland in May 2012 in a senior part-time role.
David Davies has worked at the very top level of Sport and Media Communications for a generation. As a BBC Television Correspondent/Presenter for more than 20 years, uniquely he reported on General Elections and World Cups.
As Executive Director of The Football Association, he worked closely with four England football managers over thirteen often turbulent years. Since 2006, he has been employed at home and abroad at senior levels in industry as well as sport in the Middle East, North America and Africa. He believes passionately in sport as a power for good at all levels of society. During his time at The FA, he was a founder member of football’s anti -racism “Kick It Out” campaign.
David Davies, on behalf of football, was one of a small group of sports leaders who launched London’s Bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Nicola Howson is Portland’s Senior Adviser for Corporate and Philanthropy. Nicola started her career in public relations 25 years ago. She is a Communication and PR specialist and is regarded as one of the most respected experts in her field.
She has spent the bulk of her career in the media industry, TV production, multi-channel television and in network television as the Communications Director of ITV.
Nicola joined one of the leading communications agencies, freuds, in early 2006 and established its Corporate practice, specialising in reputation management. She became CEO in 2010 and was responsible for nurturing and developing the agency, its clients and its people. During her four years as freuds’ CEO, Nicola advised a wide-range of clients, including major brands such as Mars, PepsiCo and Asda, media companies including Sky, Condé Nast and Warner Bros and corporate clients RBS and Vodafone.
The former ITV Network Communications Director left freuds in 2014 and established her own independent consultancy, where she continues to advise international corporations, brands and high-profile individuals on their reputations. Nicola also serves as an Ambassador to the conservation charity, WWF and is a member of the Council for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.
Senior Political Advisor, Brussels
Silvana Koch-Mehrin served two terms as a Member of the European Parliament (2004-2014), and was Vice-President of the European Parliament from 2009-2011.
Silvana is President and Founder of Women Political Leaders (WPL), a worldwide network of female politicians. In addition to her work for WPL, Silvana serves on the board of the Council of Women World Leaders, the network of female Presidents and Prime Ministers. She is a member of the senior network of the European Leadership Network (ELN), and a Board Director of the Social Progress Imperative, and represents the European Union since 2016 in the Executive Committee of W20, an official engagement group of the G20.
In 2018 and 2019 she has been ranked as one of the 100 most influential persons in gender equality by apolitical. Silvana is a regular speaker at institutions such as the UN, OECD, World Bank and other international fora.
Silvana holds numerous honorary positions, including Alumni of the Young Global Leader Network of the World Economic Forum. She speaks German, English and French.
Phil has worked in consultancy and corporate organisations for over 20 years.
She joined Vodafone when it bought Mannessman in 2001 and was part of the team leading the consolidation across Europe.
In 2005, Phil joined BskyB as Director of Internal Communications and was responsible for building a team and leading the communication of the company’s commitment to customers ‘Believe in Better’.
Phil then joined Rolls Royce in 2010 as head of global responsibility for Communications.
Senior Political Advisor, Paris
A life-long diplomat, Bernard was for eleven years the President of the SACEM Board of Directors (music authors, composers and publishers’ guild), an important player in France’s creative sector. He was instrumental in piloting the organisation into the digital age, as well as in developing external partnerships, notably in the United States.
Bernard has an impressive track record in international affairs having served as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations in charge of peace-keeping operations, and French Ambassador to several international organisations in Geneva and Vienna, including the GATT and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
He was also head of Cabinet for the Minister of Communications in the government of Pierre Mauroy, and later became adviser to the President of Schlumberger during the creation of the first private mainstream television channel in France, “La Cinq”.
Lord James O’Shaughnessy
Lord James O’Shaughnessy is one of the UK’s leading policymakers. A Member of the House of Lords since 2015, James most recently served as Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health. As Minister he led work on the Life Science Industrial Strategy, delivering a new pricing scheme with the pharmaceutical industry, chairing the National Genomics Board, and the digital transformation of the NHS.
Before joining the House of Lords, James served as No.10 Director of Policy to Prime Minister David Cameron, for whom he worked for four years in opposition and in Government. Prior to health, James was involved in education reform, where he is regarded as one of the originators of the Conservative Government’s free school programme.
James has written widely on policy issues from health to housing, education to civic renewal. He has a strong entrepreneurial streak and has set up a number of organisations – Floreat, the International Positive Education Network, Edspace – to put his ideas into action.
Martin Sheehan is a Senior Adviser providing strategic counsel to a range of high level clients across Portland’s roster of government and corporate clients.
He is a communications strategist and former journalist. Martin helps clients develop strategy, manage reputation and build capacity.
He was formerly Head of Strategic Communications at Number 10 serving under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, responsible for creating and delivering long-term communications campaigns.