NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has appointed Rowan Benecke, previously EVP and regional director of North America at Text100, to serve as the global technology practice chair, effective October 6.
Benecke, who will be based in the firm’s New York office, will report directly to worldwide chair and CEO Donald Baer. He succeeds Lisa Poulson, who left the firm last spring. In her absence, executives on a regional basis, as well as some client leads, managed the tech practice, said Baer.
The agency began actively looking for someone to fill the role since the beginning of the year, and Baer said Burson is "very confident we found the very right person for this job."
Benecke is a "phenomenal talent," and his agency background, global expertise, and client work were very appealing to Burson, said Baer.
"We know the technology sector is changing radically, and there are both very big worldwide clients and new clients coming into the marketplace," he added. "[Benecke] has a deep expertise in building both established and emerging clients."
During his nine-year tenure at Text100, where he held leadership roles in North America, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific, Benecke worked on a wide range of tech accounts, such as Airbnb, Cisco, IBM, Lenovo, PayPal, and Vodafone.
Baer said the main goals for the technology division going forward is to continue growing the practice, building and strengthening relationships with existing clients, and attracting new business across a wide variety of tech industries.
One of Benecke’s first focus areas when he steps into the position is the North American market, he said.
"Given the center of gravity where a lot of technology trends, developments, and innovations are happening, particularly around Silicon Valley and some other technology hubs in the North America market, that’s going to be a priority to begin with," explained Benecke.
Benecke said he was attracted to Burson because of its strong leadership team and scale and breadth of services. He added that joining the WPP firm allows him to bring his skills into a much larger playing field than he had in the past.
Most recently, Benecke spent the last two years as EVP and regional director of North America at Text100. He also previously ran the firm’s EMEA operations out of Madrid, Spain for two years, and before that, he served as VP and regional director for Asia-Pacific for five years.
Prior to Text100, Benecke spent two years as GM and VP at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, where he was tasked with diversifying the agency’s client portfolio beyond Microsoft.
He also previously cofounded Zeno Group and spent seven years working at Zeno and Edelman.
Benecke’s appointment follows on the heels of a number of other Burson hires and promotions over the last few months, such as bringing on Dr. Chang'an Tien as the new head of government affairs in China last month.
In July, the firm announced that US CEO Dave DenHerder was going to step down from his role on September 1, with US president Michael Law succeeding him.