Ketchum promotes Lorfink to president, Rafferty named North America CEO

NEW YORK: Ketchum has promoted Barri Rafferty to CEO of North America, a new role at the company, and named Rob Lorfink president, effective September 1.

NEW YORK: Ketchum has promoted Barri Rafferty to CEO of North America, a new role at the company, and named Rob Lorfink president, effective September 1. Newly minted CEO Rob Flaherty will relinquish the title of president at that time.

The leadership changes follow the executive transition that occurred July 1 when Flaherty succeeded former chief executive Ray Kotcher. At that time, Kotcher took on the role of chairman.

Flaherty said the agency is “on track for double-digit growth this year, but these appointments set us up to take our business to the next level.”

Rob Lorfink

Lorfink, who joined Ketchum in 2003 as CFO and expanded his role to COO in 2008, will remain the agency's COO and senior partner. He will oversee the firm's specialty units and three regional CEOs while continuing to lead its talent management, finance, IT, and legal operations. Lorfink will report to Flaherty.

Lorfink was previously VP of finance and operations at Omnicom Group's Diversified Agency Services division, which contains PR firms Fleishman-Hillard and Porter Novelli, as well as Ketchum.

“We're now looking at how we can continue to connect the agency globally and evolve those connections for the benefit of our clients and employees,” Lorfink said.

Until Lorfink's appointment, an employee from the client-counseling side of the business traditionally held the role of president, Flaherty said. He called Lorfink “one of the smartest, sharpest business people I've ever worked with.”

“I wanted to bring his business acumen to the reshaping of our agency,” Flaherty explained.

Barri Rafferty

Rafferty, currently senior partner and director of Ketchum New York, will manage the firm's offices in the US and Canada while continuing to oversee the agency's digital and social advancement as well as Ketchum Digital and to serve on the executive committee. She will report to Lorfink and continue to focus on recruiting and retaining talent.

Rafferty will succeed senior partner Lorraine Thelian, who will become vice chairman. Reporting to Flaherty, Thelian will advise on Ketchum's North American operations and continue to serve as a senior counselor to clients.

Although Thelian now leads Ketchum's North American operations, North America CEO is a new title at the agency, Flaherty explained.

“As the North America region continues to grow, we think it's appropriate to have a CEO,” he added.

Mike Doyle, partner and associate director of Ketchum's New York office, will succeed Rafferty as director of New York and report to her. Doyle, who currently oversees New York's consumer brand and food and wellness practices, will manage the office's day-to-day operations and work to secure and retain talent.

The agency's decision to appoint a new president happened more quickly than previous transitions into the role, Flaherty said. Before Flaherty became president in 2008, the position had been vacant for eight years since Kotcher was promoted to CEO in 2000.

“I felt we needed our structure and management to move to the next level, and to make sure we had strong leaders in the right positions,” Flaherty said.

The firm reported between $400 million and $450 million in global revenue and $250 million to $300 million in US revenue in 2011. In June, the Cleveland Clinic hired Ketchum as its first AOR in its eight-decade history.

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