The book

In the Age of Hyper-Transparency, Interconnectivity and Media Anarchy, How Corporate Leaders Connect Business with Society

Over the last twenty-five years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the balance of power from institutions to civil society. Individuals have never been more demanding toward Big Business.

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This unstoppable change has been fueled by the New Normal--an interconnected, hyper-transparent, and media-anarchic world forcing companies to rethink their contribution to society. Not all businesses have found the answer to thrive in the New Normal beyond delivering short-term shareholder value.

Alberto Lopez-Valenzuela has worked with leaders of some of the world's biggest companies and has spent years analyzing how companies build authentic reputations that create tangible value. Using extensive research and in-depth interviews with some of the most forward-thinking leaders in Corporate Affairs, Alberto shares a new model, The Connecting Leader, to help companies establish an authentic relationship with key stakeholders that not only delivers greater economic value but also enables a positive social contract.

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“The Connecting Leader is a must read for communication professionals who aspire to succeed as senior-level executives in the modern enterprise.”

— Richard Woods, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs Capital One Financial Corp. (Retired )

"This is a really wonderful book, because it places centre stage the issues affecting organisations that we used to think of as “external issues”. If as a chief executive or MD you don’t know what people “outside” think of you (and by outside, we mean those non-management folk who actually decide whether you exist or not - customers, regulators, shareholders, non-executive directors) then you won’t be around long. The author “nails” what the future role of the (current) corporate affairs director is (being the ultimate insider outsider, among others) but also shows why, truly, every business leader needs to be far, far better at connecting to their stakeholders. Against the backdrop of parlous levels of trust in organisations (of all kinds), I believe this book shows a pathway back to restoring trust as well as prosperity. The future health of society depends on people taking on board some of what the author has to say here.”

— Richard Hamilton, Director of Corporate Affairs and Strategy, KPMG,

“Having just finished ‘The Connecting Leader’ I have decided I’m going to read it again. It is that good. Alberto does an extraordinary job of explaining why and how the current business environment looks so different to what it did ten years ago. We talk a lot about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a post-crisis world. This book goes way deeper and really gets you to reflect about what needs to be done to reinstate society’s trust in business as a force for good. And then comes the core part - a call to arms to organisations the world over to empower their connecting leaders. The price to pay if they don’t will be costly, as navigating the complex landscape of stakeholder relationships and protecting an organisation’s integrity in the outside world have never been more important. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s insightful and original, as well as practical. In years to come I have no doubt it will be a go-to read on doing business in our time. As for now, it offers a wealth of knowledge, inspiration and advice that I am truly grateful to Alberto for sharing.”

— Danny Lopez, Former HM Consul General, New York and Director General, Trade & Investment USA,

“The world is moving fast and, for too long, many in-house corporate affairs practitioners have felt they are being left behind. But not left behind by the dramatic trends which are going on in the real world: they know, and are in tune with, the digital revolution and the mainstreaming of sustainability issues much more than many other professional advisors. Instead, many feel they are left behind within their own organisations – trapped outside the boardroom and armed with just a metaphorical mop and bucket to clear up whatever bad news is facing a company.

— Simon Burton, Partner at Headland Consultancy,

“Excellent book Alberto. With the digital revolution and all the new technologies and platforms out there, CCO and corporations have a unique opportunity to deliver their story to society in a transparent and compelling way. And demonstrate how businesses are adding value to society for the long-term.”

— Ricardo Adame Group Executive, Global Communications, Newmont Mining Corporation,

“The Connecting Leader is not only an extremely well-rounded, informative and inspiring book. It is also daring and thought-provoking, brilliantly challenging accepted best practices and routines in the management of corporate communications and reputational intelligence. Where Corporate Affairs Directors or Chief Comms Officers remain intent on “owning the narrative” (a futile effort in the absence of actual facts in the “New Normal”), Alberto challenges them to listen to their real stakeholders in a truly actionable way. Where most business leaders keep prioritizing tactical, short-term KPIs, he advocates a data-driven focus on true long-term value, and is able to break it down into the specific ingredients of such Connected Intelligence System as a true barometer of an organization’s social contract.

— Sergio Maldonado, Chief Executive Officer, PrivacyCloud,

“As a Corporate Affairs Director of FTSE100 companies for over 12 years I am fascinated by Alberto’s insight into the corporate mind and his analysis of the social conscience. Why wasn’t this book around during the financial market turmoils, asking the right questions at the right time to corporate leaders of one of the most shocking times of our generation. He is right. We should learn and adapt from those times, a compelling analytical read.”

— Mark Rigby, Corporate Affairs Director, Sainsbury’s PLC, BASS Plc, Six Continents PLC, 

“As institutions of all hues are being tested in an age of mistrust and enforced transparency, Lopez presents an inspiring manifesto for how future leaders and their organisations will need to adapt and change.”

— Nigel Fairbrass, Partner and Co-Founder, Eterna Partners

“Alberto Lopez has been at the forefront of Business Intelligence for nearly a decade, and in that time has developed the now generally accepted way to measure sentiment. In this book he gives a summary of his findings during that period, encapsulated in the formulation of the characteristics and responsibilities of the “Connecting Leader”. I think that’s an appropriate label for a way of running a business and what that implies. He starts with what is obvious: that the world has changed enormously with the advance of electronic communication and media activity. There is a “New Normal”, in which communication is transparent, immediate, and available. The implications for business are profound, and the first few chapters explain very clearly what the implications of the “New Normal” are. The “Connecting Leader” is the outcome: someone with influence in an organisation who realises how to take advantage of the opportunities that have arisen.

— Peter Mitic, Head of Operational Risk Methodology UK, Banco Santander,

“Alberto is a luminary and trailblazer in the dynamic and sophisticated world of intelligence-led reputation management. 10 years ago he was a pioneer, a visionary force, a man ahead of his time, demonstrating how corporate entities should conduct themselves, to optimise their profile for both altruistic assessment and commercial evaluation.

As the Head of Communications for a multi-million-pound global enterprise, I could see the value of Alberto’s philosophy and the benefits to be derived. Regrettably, at the time, others did not embrace his way of thinking and methodologies. It was their loss. It was one of the most disappointing days of my career that my alleged ‘superiors’ didn’t get it. They frittered away the opportunity to forge a long lasting and beneficial partnership with Alberto and alva.

Now, here in 2018, Alberto continues as a shining light, illuminating the thought processes of those with the wisdom and willing disposition to be Connected Leaders. The Connecting Leader is the seminal tome for exploring and understanding the complexities of how business can, and should, conduct itself for the greater good in our society, as well as continued commercial gain. The two elements are intrinsic.

Integrity, sincerity and transparency will always trump ‘fake news’, disingenuous deeds and those who still believe the ends justify the means, by any means required. In a business environment subject to omnipresent change, The Connecting Leader is a ‘must read’ for those who truly care as to how they can shape how the outside world views their organisation. As someone with links to the European car industry, I can only imagine how the chiefs at Volkswagen might have rethought their strategy on diesel emissions if The Connecting Leader had been available back in 2015.

Written by a man who embodies all the qualities and virtues the book espouses, The Connecting Leader is highly recommended.”

— David Walker, Communications Director at Right Word Comms Ltd,

“The mastery of writing is difficult and rare…and superb writing reveals deep subject matter knowledge and incisive analytical skill” notes Lauren Day, COO of Prudential Financial in “The Connecting Leader”. Alberto Lopez’s new book meets this challenge and more. In an age where the concept of the Social Contract has been reawakened and consumers increasingly see themselves as voting for a business every time they buy a service or product, understanding reputation has never been more important. Alberto Lopez’s tour de force benefits from his many years of experience at the cutting edge of reputation analysis and draws on a broad range of corporate exemplars and peer commentary. Leavened by a perspective which puts reputation within a broader context, Alberto Lopez assesses the challenges CEO’s face in a world of consumer empowerment and media anarchy. “The Connecting Leader” provides an answer to these challenges from an authentic leader himself.”

— Quentin Boyd, Director of Corporate Finance, LCF Edmond de Rothschild

“Alberto makes a compelling case for the empowerment of corporate affairs professionals who are ready to help CEO’s and boards to see the world as it really is. These leaders are allowing their CEO’s to better deliver on commitments to customers, shareholders and society at large.

Alberto has lived his passion for this topic by tirelessly building a business which provides progressive corporate affairs professionals around the world with the data-driven insight they need to be the Connecting Leaders this book describes.

As an investor and board member at alva and I have seen first-hand Alberto’s commitment to continuous improvement, and to delivering the tools and insights his customers need to succeed. In documenting his observations from the coal face of his industry he has created a valuable resource for current and future corporate leaders.”

— Oliver Thomas, Board Director, Softomotive,

“As a Corporate Affairs leader for the past 25+ years, Lopez’s vision really struck a chord. Far too often has our function been misunderstood and our potential as value creators ignored. My CEO will be receiving a copy!”

— Corporate Affairs Professional,

“The Great Recession opened the public’s eyes and led to a general distrust of the corporate world which still exists today. With the rise of the digital economy, social media and the forthcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution the corporate landscape is dramatically changing, and companies and their leadership need to take stock and be able to embrace these seismic shifts. ‘The Connecting Leader’ eloquently and purposefully analyses the need to change and how to go about it. Alberto Lopez’s book is a must read for any company and leadership team that understands the need to be strategic and nimble in this fast-changing world with many useful real-life examples. This is a timely and apt study with important insights for the modern business leader”

— Dom Sharp, VP International, 451 Research,

“I loved how Alberto engaged his network of leaders in Communications and Corporate Affairs to draw on real-life, tangible use cases from the top businesses in the world. It makes it less of a typical “business book” about ideas and information overload, and more about actionable applications on how the function can actually step up in today’s society.”

— Communications Director,

“The Connecting Leader brings powerful new insight into the role corporations play with society. The book presents broad new thinking, presents a well-organized framework, and then shows how to practically act. Highly recommended.”

— Jeremy Lehman, General Manager, Softomotive
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About the author

For more than twenty-five years, Alberto has worked in business information and analysis, developing decision-intelligence solutions for Fortune 500 companies.
Alberto has held roles in marketing, strategy, and corporate development at numerous global companies. In 2010 he founded alva, a technology-enabled company that provides intelligence for the largest companies in the world. He currently serves as Chief Executive of alva.
Alberto has been a visiting professor at Cass Business School, where he earned an Executive MBA, and holds an honors degree from the University of the Arts London.