Thomas Gensemer: 40 Under 40 2015

Chief strategy officer, US, Burson-Marsteller

Thomas Gensemer champions integration like few others. He’s the guy who looks at the problem that everyone has been staring at for days and solves it in two minutes. In his first two years as the US chief strategy officer at Burson-Marsteller, Gensemer led a digital reorganization that cut across practice groups, providing a truly integrated offering for clients.

He expanded the analytics practice and established a team dedicated to digital integration, a new planning function within the US network. His team also recently opened Burson’s StudioB, a data-driven center of creativity, content production, and distribution.

A colleague praises his "high-level command of technology" coupled with strategic expertise: "Thomas focuses on creating tools to enable people, as opposed to gadgets to amaze people."

Gensemer knows a thing or two about digital strategy. As managing partner of Blue State Digital from 2005 to 2013, he worked with political campaigns in the US and around the world and provided strategic comms for high-profile corporate and NGO brands.

He’s one of those credited with building the groundbreaking online operation that helped President Barack Obama raise $500 million through online fundraising in 2008 and mobilize millions of supporters with the Blue State Digital-built MyBo campaign site.

Following the historical election, Gensemer went to work diversifying the firm’s expertise beyond political campaigns, applying its online organization skills to corporate clients such as Ford, Google, and Vogue, and opened a London office. When WPP came knocking, Gensemer negotiated the firm’s acquisition by the holding company.

At Burson he focuses on developing new products and services as well as advising top clients including Comcast and Nestlé Purina. A member of WPP’s Digital Advisory Board, Gensemer has earned the trust of the executive suite and direct reports alike. The firm appointed him interim CEO of subsidiary Proof Integrated Communications.

"Thomas is a culture builder, committed to attracting and retaining the best talent from across the industry," adds a colleague. "He works closely with agency leadership and key leaders of individual group operating companies to bring together the best of WPP."

- He is an active early stage investor, habitual renovator, and real estate flipper, as well as an avid collector of art and photography

- Gensemer participates and volunteers with a number of organizations, including the Global Agenda Council, World Economic Forum, and It Gets Better Project

- The awards keep rolling in: Four Webbys, two Reed Awards, and more than 25 Pollies from The American Association of Political Consultants

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