Seven questions for new DeVries Global CEO Heidi Hovland

Just-appointed DeVries Global CEO Heidi Hovland talks with PRWeek about the challenges of moving into an international role, how the firm could expand work with Procter & Gamble, and creativity.

Heidi Hovland, the newly minted DeVries Global CEO, tells PRWeek about some of her plans and focus areas for the Interpublic Group agency.

PRWeek: You’re going from a leadership role in New York at FleishmanHillard to a global position at DeVries. What do you think you need to catch up on for the new job?
Heidi Hovland: What’s really exciting is that we are a fully formed global agency, but the next step will be uniting all the offices under a common mission and theme and making sure that we’re all marching in the same direction. We have great people in every market we’re in, and we do really great work for clients in those markets, but at this point in our development, what do we all stand for together?

PRW: What are your priorities for China? How does that compare with the US?
Hovland: In China, we’re in a really strong position. We have great teams and great clients, and I think [a goal] is ensuring that both have what they need. The US is by far our largest market and we are continuing to do really great work across beauty, tourism, spirits, and CPG, so it’s about how we can expand even further. I think great work across industries benefits all our clients from that expanded perspective.

PRW: How will you enhance creative offerings?
Hovland: The creative idea is very much part of the DeVries heritage and everything moving forward will be about strengthening that element of our brand and our persona and what clients can expect from us. We have insights and analytics, so how do we strengthen those capabilities and how do we attract the most creative thinkers in the industry? As we grow globally, how do we maintain that courageous, curious heart of a boutique?

PRW: What specific consumer areas do you want to focus on?
Hovland: Procter & Gamble is a really valued partner for us, so we’ll continue to find ways to work together. What we have to offer, which is the industry’s richest and most diverse perspective on marketing to women, there are so many brands that would benefit from that, so that is one way to look at it. Certainly, we could also look at it across sectors, so while we have deep experience in beauty, we also have [experience in] travel and tourism, wine and spirits, food and beverage, and nutrition. Really the sky’s the limit.

PRW: What challenges do you see DeVries facing?
Hovland: Attracting and retaining the best talent and investing in the resources that matter the most. Our industry has done a lot of chasing of the shiny object over the past several years, so it’s about being selective and having intent about where you’re going to focus and what you want to be known for, and creativity is a big part of that.

PRW: What areas do you plan to invest in?
Hovland: Insights and analytics are the most important tools that communications agencies or any marketing agencies have at their disposable, so figuring out the best tools, the best means, and the best decipherers of the massive data we now have access to is what we need to figure out next.

PRW: Looking back in six months, what do you want to have accomplished?
Hovland: Super happy clients, expanded business, and the most energized and motivated staff in the industry around the world.

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