Associate Leadership

Brussels is home to some 1,500 European trade associations that play a prominent role in EU public affairs.  Around 60% are traditional pure federations composed of national associations; 25% are composed of national associations and firms; and 15% have exclusive direct company membership. Whatever their composition, members want stronger leadership, better policy outcomes, enhanced communications and greater value for money.  Dober Partners can help in all these areas.


"In the same way that you know an underperforming association when you see it, some associations stand out and add a great deal of value to their members. Typically the best associations have excellent people within the leadership teams of their secretariats, at the level of director-general, director of communications, or head of public affairs."

Mark Dober quoted EurActiv. He authored the recent report on ‘Key Success Factors for European Associations’ for Ellwood Atfield which has been widely reported in the media and presented at conferences, including the AGM of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE). 

Click here for further information and to download the report from Ellwood Atfeld.

The team has worked with over 40 European associations on diverse projects, from EU lobbying campaigns to in-depth research on an industry’s reputation among policy-makers and key stakeholders.  Key services we offer to associations include:

Strategic Advice.

The number 1 challenge facing any association is finding consensus.  As a group of independent experts, Dober Partners can help associations analyse issues objectively, reach the right decisions and act on them. For instance, we recently interviewed corporate CEOS and Director Generals of national member associations on key challenges facing the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and compiled a strategic report with long term recommendations.

Reputation & Issue opinion research.

The team has led numerous opinion research assignments for European associations.  We help break down the issues that define an industry’s or association's reputation with key audiences to its basic elements. By understanding which elements are most or least important, we enable industry communicators to know the key issues that define and drive the industry’s overall reputation.  We also dissect issues through qualitative interviews and focus groups in Brussels, as well as larger surveys of policy-makers and opinion-formers around Europe.

Communications & Public  Affairs.

With so many European associations competing for EU policy-makers’ attention, it is critical to have a clear written and visual identity.  The team has helped numerous associations improve their communications, ranging from developing new websites to the rebranding of UNICE to BUSINESSEUROPE.  We provide a full range of services to advance an association’s reputation and issues.


Working with executive search specialists Ellwood Atfield, we help European associations recruit new leaders.  For example, Mark Dober recently led recruitment for Ellwood Atfield of the Secretary General of the European Spirits Organisation (CEPS) and the Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).  We also help find senior communications, public affairs and regulatory professionals for European associations.


The team is available to help associations train their staff on key areas that add value to their members.  Working with external experts and our in-house team, we have developed a number of training modules including:

Olivier Jankovec

"Mark Dober recently engaged with our team to help us understand better how ACI EUROPE is positioned in Brussels and review the key success factors for an EU focused trade association. This helped us tremendously in reviewing our strategy, future proofing and charting the way forward.".

Olivier Jankovec, Director General, Airports Council International

Axel Jorns

"The Dober Partners team provided excellent support to my association during a successful trade defence case before the European Commission."

Axel C. Jorns, Secretary-General at GlassFibreEurope

Milan Nitzschke

"The Dober Partners team are first class media and communications advisers. They provided consistently great support throughout what became the biggest trade case in history."

Milan Nitzschke, President of EU ProSun the European solar manufacturers’ initiative.


Dober Partners offers services in the following areas:


It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.


Dober Partners aims to publish regular articles of interest:

EU Media Relations Report

UNICEF Quiz for Children

Brussels Journalists Survey & what the findings reveal for Communicators.

Find out more »

Client Case Study

Stop China Dumping

Dober Partners was contracted to deliver an ambitious project on behalf of EUROFER, the European Steel Association, and AEGIS a coalition of 30 manufacturing industry associations.

Find out more »