top of page

Who We Are

We are utterly curious about the world.

We are fiercely protective of our clients.​

We know one size does not fit all so we tailor the right people to the situation at hand.

Justin McLaren

Justin is actively involved in each of our assignments and provides counsel primarily at Board and Chief Executive level.  


His clients span multiple sectors but are united in needing to address changing competitive and cultural landscapes and the shifting expectations of their customers and employees. Justin works with clients on all aspects of their strategy.


Justin founded 8hwe in 2002 after a career in the Cabinet Office where he served as Private Secretary to three government ministers and worked across a variety of domestic policy areas.


Born and educated in Scotland, Justin read PPE at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, and has an MBA (distn) from Imperial College Management School, London.


He is Chair of the charity Missing People.

Michelle Hakim

Michelle founded 8hwe with Justin after graduating from the University of Bristol with a Politics degree. 


She advises clients on promoting and protecting their reputations and ensuring their positioning is relevant, resonant and consistent.

Anna Lemer

Anna joined 8hwe in 2006 and became a director in 2014.


Her analytical and forensic approach to language has redefined the way our company carries out and implements successful message development.


Anna has a degree in English from Bristol University.

Saoirse Brennan

Saoirse joined 8hwe in 2014 and was appointed a director in 2019. She works across many of our clients and specialises in media and stakeholder relations, developing and implementing communications strategies on a range of issues.

She has a joint honours degree in English and Latin from the University of Leeds.

Nicole McKechnie

Nicole works across a variety of sectors, including science, sport and education, helping to shape our clients' messaging and advising on their reputational issues. 

She read History at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.

Saskia Kemsley

Saskia supports on a range of projects providing crucial research and helping build our clients’ profiles through media relations and social media strategies.

She has a first class Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh.

Rupert Huxter

After reading English at Cambridge and gaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at London University, Rupert taught in a West London secondary school for several years before joining HM Diplomatic Service, serving at the UK Mission to the UN in New York, in Belgrade, and in Paris. In the Paris embassy he was the counsellor responsible for global issues including aerospace, transport, and the environment.  

In the mid-‘90s, Rupert worked in Cabinet Office, first as a ministerial speech-writer and then as private secretary to Michael Heseltine as Deputy Prime Minister and Peter Mandelson as Minister without Portfolio.

From 2003 to 2018 Rupert worked at Hakluyt & Company, the leading strategic advisory firm. He spent twelve years as deputy CEO, four in Singapore, and advised corporate and investor clients across the world in sectors including automotive and oil & gas.  Now running his own consultancy, Rupert remains an adviser to Hakluyt, and to us at 8hwe.   

Maggie O'Boyle

Maggie provides high level communications strategy, media handling and reputation management advice to Board-level clients across the public, political and third sector.


Her career includes seven years working in Whitehall as a government communications advisor.

bottom of page