BRUSSELS — James Stevens is to join Rud Pedersen Public Affairs as a partner in its Brussels office. Stevens joins the fast-growing Nordic public affairs firm after 15 years at FleishmanHillard Brussels where he was latterly senior vice president, senior partner and managing director of public affairs.

Stevens has advised corporate and trade association clients on public affairs and communications in Brussels and Washington D.C, and has a particular expertise in the chemicals and energy sectors and in environmental policy. In 2014 he was named as European Public Affairs Professional of the Year and from 2012 to 2016 was the Chair of the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels.

He is also known for his early adoption of digital channels to public affairs work, including setting up the first Brussels public affairs blog and Twitter account.

Rud Pedersen Public Affairs opened its Brussels office last year, and with Stevens’ appointment as partner it now has a team of 11, adding to more than 120 colleagues in its five offices across four Nordic countries.

Stevens, who is currently on gardening leave, told the Holmes Report: “There’s a little bit of sadness that I’ve moved on after so many years but it felt like the right time to do something new. I built FleishmanHillard in the Brussels market but of course it was never my firm, and I wanted something I could have an ownership stake in. I didn’t want to start up on my own, and the new Rud Pedersen Brussels office already had a critical mass of 10 people, so it’s effectively a good-sized start-up with the backing of a bigger entity.”

He added: “The market here is very fragmented so there’s really room for a dedicated public affairs agency, purely focused on policymakers, to grow. And it’s a good fit for me as Rud Pedersen’s strength is in Scandinavia – all the countries that drive policy agenda around environment and energy. I’m over the moon; I thought it would take a lot longer to find the right fit.”

The move also reunites Stevens with Martin Bresson, Rud Pedersen’s Brussels managing partner, as a senior advisor at FleishmanHillard Brussels from 2012-2017.

Bresson said: “Having worked with James, I know how great he is at driving a public affairs business in Brussels. He brings insights on the chemicals and energy sectors, and business savvy, both in terms of the consultancy and an understanding of clients’ business concerns. We’re thrilled that he’ll be joining us.”

Steven’s former boss, FleishmanHillard Brussels EVP and senior partner Caroline Wunnerlich, said: “James remains a friend of the firm, and we thank him for his service over the 15 years he was with us. Our deep bench of public affairs talent at FH Brussels and across our strong global network will ensure our clients continue to receive the same leading advice we are known for.”