PR man to Prince of Wales gives away his firm

Simon Cohen of Global Tolerance

An entrepreneur who announced plans earlier this year to give his PR firm away has picked two winners, who will shortly take over as joint managing directors.

In March, Simon Cohen announced that he wanted to step back from running Global Tolerance, which specialises in promoting good causes, to focus on bringing up his baby daughter. But instead of selling, he announced plans to give the company away, saying this fitted better with the ethos of the firm. He kicked off a global competition, dubbed the Open Leadership Exercise, to find new owners.

This competition attracted more than 200 applicants from 30 countries, who were evaluated by a team of experts through a two-month audition process, culminating in a Dragon's Den style presentation.

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The new managing directors are Noa Gafni, a digital strategist from the World Economic Forum and Rosie Warin, a PR director from Forster Communications, who get 95% of the company, along with £10,000 cash and all company assets. They say they want to make the world more tolerant, equal and fair through communication and social innovation.

"In Noa and Rosie, I have found two amazing leaders, two inspirational ladies who permeate the values of Global Tolerance," says Cohen. "I'm excited to see the direction they take the company in."

The company's clients include the Dalai Lama, the Prince of Wales and the Green Party. However, for the last year, the company has been 'taking a sabbatical', with the seven staff laid off for the interim. During the previous year, though, it turned over $500,000, indicating that it could be worth between £500,000 and £1 million.

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The company will reopen for business this autumn, but is "open for conversation and consultancy now", they say. Cohen will retain a 5% stake and an advisory role in the firm - but will concentrate mainly on looking after his 18-month-daughter, Seren.

"Simon Cohen is a visionary business leader. The Open Leadership Exercise is a values-driven exit strategy and a blueprint designed to perpetuate the mission and values of Global Tolerance as the organisation has evolved," comments Robert Benjamin Jr, managing director of JP Morgan Securities in New York.

"Simon has put forth a methodology that could be employed by mission-driven entrepreneurs, and I look forward to seeing a number of business leaders adopting the OLE for their own organisations."

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