Jim O'Leary: 40 Under 40 2014

EVP, global client relationship manager, Edelman
Age: 34

In the last three years, Jim O’Leary – the youngest global client relationship manager at Edelman – has guided top executives through challenging situations, managed many of the firm’s biggest and most innovative campaigns, and led extraordinary growth among its clients.

He has worked on several high-profile corporate transformations at Edelman, including leading the team that supported Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman’s five-year turnaround strategy.

O’Leary notably grew the extent of Edelman’s work with HP in less than two years, increasing its scope to 44 countries, and built a team of 160 people over 18 months, making it among the largest clients at the firm.

His work with ITT Corporation is equally impressive. This included developing the corporate communications strategy around its 2011 demerger, which saw O’Leary manage a team of more than 40 people across five offices globally.

"In 2011, Jim led the team responsible for helping the world’s first conglomerate successfully demerge into three separate, publicly traded companies," explains B.J. Talley, director of corporate communication at Exelis. "This effort has been recognized as one of the fastest and most successful corporate transformations in recent history, receiving many of the PR industry’s top awards."

At the same time, he helped build and manage communications for each of the three new companies – ITT Corp., Exelis, and Xylem, work which led to a PRWeek Award in 2012 for Financial Communications Campaign of the Year.

O’Leary also executed the successful corporate communications program for ADT to ensure it was in a good position to split from its parent company Tyco International and go public in October 2012.

He also led the development of Edelman’s global industrials group, specializing in corporate reputation management for aerospace, defense, transportation, and infrastructure companies. And, O’Leary was ahead of the game, pioneering corporate reputation measurement approaches before they were widely adopted.


• O’Leary is the lead strategist for a pro bono campaign in support of aboriginal economic development in Canada

• He is the co-owner of two award-winning restaurants in Chicago – The Bedford and Carriage House

• Carriage House was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Esquire, Best Brunch in Chicago by Chicago, and Best Neighborhood Restaurant in Chicago by Time Out Chicago in 2013

• His other restaurant, The Bedford, is a supper club known for its acclaimed craft cocktails

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