NEW YORK: Kekst and Company has named partner Larry Rand president and CEO, effective September 1, with founder and current CEO Gershon Kekst transitioning into a newly created executive chairman role.
Kekst will continue to work closely with clients and mentor colleagues. "Larry has been groomed for the job for many years," Kekst told PRWeek. "We had an opportunity to rethink the whole model of Kekst, take the best, and build the next 40 years.”
Rand began at Kekst in early 1971, shortly after the firm's creation. In addition to his work at Kekst, he is also a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, where he teaches a course titled "Corporate Communications in the Capital Markets."
In July 2008, Publicis acquired Kekst and the firm, which has approximately 70 employees including 35 partners, is now part of the MS&LGroup. Kekst still operates under its own name, something that will continue indefinitely, according to Rand and Kekst.
Kekst said the holding company's ownership had nothing to do with the decision to transfer leadership or the timing, but he acknowledged that he had wanted to wait a significant time from the acquisition before making the change in CEO.
“When we decided to sell the company, we calculated there would be two or three years for the brand transition to take place," he said. "That would be the point at which there should be a jolt of new energy.”
In addition to the leadership change, the firm is also adjusting its overall management structure. It has created two new working committees: The Executive Committee will consist of partners Jim Fingeroth, Jeffrey Taufield, and Tom Davies and will be responsible for setting policies and procedures for the firm, including strategic decisions on growth and expansion, new business development, approval of all compensation, and interaction with the leadership of the MS&LGroup and Publicis. The Operations Committee will comprise partners Eric Berman, Todd Fogarty, Michael Freitag, Ruth Pachman, and Lissa Perlman and oversee daily operations of the firm, including HR, resource allocation, quality control, and all administrative functions.
"We've built our business by attracting people from different disciplines," Rand said. "We have little churn of personnel. One of the truths that Gershon established is that everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher.”
He added that one of the goals for the firm going forward is to raise the profile of its work beyond M&A communications, IR, crisis, and media relations so that current and prospective clients will be more aware of its capabilities in litigation support, bankruptcy and restructuring, and corporate governance.