New global Ogilvy board makes sure younger talent is tapped

Ogilvy global chair Christopher Graves will lead the 17-member board, selected from Ogilvy PR and Ogilvy & Mather, globally.

Chris Graves will lead the board.
Chris Graves will lead the board.

NEW YORK: Ogilvy Public Relations has formed a board comprised of 17 global staffers and led by the firm’s global chair Christopher Graves.

The board, which formed last week, is tasked with advising the firm’s global CEO Stuart Smith and executive committee, which expanded from four members to 13 members in September. The board is also responsible for leading in the development of strategies which are critical to growth, including talent, innovation, and digital, according to a statement.

This is the first time Ogilvy has set up a board, explained Graves. The 17 board members were selected from Ogilvy PR and Ogilvy & Mather, globally. Board appointments are intended for a two-year term, with the exception of the firebrands, who rotate annually. The intention is to keep the board "fresh," adding new thinking every year. Three board members are labeled "firebrand appointments," which are younger people who have demonstrated "fresh, connect-the-dots thinking," Graves explained.

The board members include: Kathy Baird, Michael Briggs, Kate Cronin, Robyn Massey, Amy Messenger, Jamie Moeller, Suresh Raj, Ben Richards, and Jennifer Risi from the US. Selina Teng (Beijing), Kieran Moore (Sydney), Marshall Manson (London), Saada Hammad (Beirut / Dubai), and Daniel Ch’ng (Kuala Lumpur) are also included.

The firebrand appointments are Brian Smith (US), Bizhan Govindji (London), and Elsa Liu (Beijing).

The executive committee will remain in place, but act as a subset of the larger board.

"The board is a larger, more diverse body [than the executive committee] meant to bring us a much fresher, more diverse set of ideas and points of view from not only around the globe, but also from a variety of disciplines, background, and experience," said Graves.

"Firebrand appointments are people who in a traditional agency or corporation would not be named to a board for another 10, 15, or 20 years because of tenure," he said. "We thought that appointing them was a very powerful way to keep us ahead of disruption by having faster, more agile, more diverse thinking at the top. Firebrands upend the traditional notion of a board, which is limited to those who have spent decades with a company."  

Smith explained that having a deep connection to Ogilvy & Mather is important to Ogilvy PR because the firm wants to redefine the role of PR in a modern and integrated environment and to work more closely with other disciplines to make sure CMOs have access to highly creative earned media.

"This board is going to be like a combination of Davos and a Ted Talk," said Graves. "When you look at the people we have pulled together, I cannot wait to see what happens."

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