NEW YORK: W2O Group has appointed Chris Deri, Burson-Marsteller's former CEO and market leader in China, as president of WCG. Monday was his first day in the role.
Deri, who spent more than two and a half years at Burson, is reporting to Bob Pearson, president of W2O Group. He is based in the firm's New York office, which has about half of the agency's 200 staffers.
The firm has not had a president since it restructured in March 2012 to create parent company W2O Group overseeing WCG, Twist, and W2O Ventures. Before the reorganization, Diane Weiser served as president and COO of WCG. She is now chief client partner in the firm's healthcare practice.
Jim Weiss, founder, chairman, and CEO of W2O Group, said the company brought on Deri to lead and grow WCG, the biggest firm in the group with offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, London, and Austin, TX, as well as remote staffers in Atlanta and Chicago.
“The bottom line is in today's world and economy, the role of corporate communications is probably as important or more important than ever, and that's why having someone with a strong corporate background is critical to our future as we continue to grow and expand,” said Weiss.
He added that the firm was impressed with Deri's “on-the-ground global experience” and previous work on CSR and sustainability efforts, which are two areas in which the agency wants to establish best practices.
Deri's main responsibilities include managing the firm's operations, working with the senior leadership team, and contributing to the strategic vision of the organization. He is also serving as a member of W2O's executive team.
Deri said his goals are to make “a contribution in terms of helping to define what the WCG brand should be today and what it should become, how it relates to W2O Group and other companies, and continuing to do great client work and attracting the best people in the industry.”
Weiss added that Deri, who has a strong understanding of the language and culture in the Asia-Pacific region, will help WCG as it expands there. He added that agencies don't need a physical office in every market, but WCG is planning on having some presence in the Asia-Pacific region with experts who know the culture.
The agency could also expand its footprint to the Middle East and additional markets in Europe, said Weiss.
Deri left Burson in May. He was replaced by Matt Stafford as CEO of Greater China.
Prior to Deri's stint at Burson, he spent 10 years at Edelman, serving as EVP and head of the firm's global CSR and sustainability practice, which he grew to 110 staffers across 15 offices worldwide.
Before that, Deri was regional director of business outreach and finance for former Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. He also previously served as the director of institutional affairs at training and lobbying organization the National Minority AIDS Council.