ICF Next ups Bryan Specht to chief growth and innovation officer

The agency also named Tricia Ewald as leader of its brand engagement business.

FAIRFAX, VA: ICF Next, the agency created this month via the the combination of Olson Engage, PulsePoint Group, and other shops, has promoted Bryan Specht to chief growth and innovation officer.

The firm has also named Tricia Ewald as managing partner of brand engagement for ICF Next. She is currently EVP of account management for Olson Engage.

The promotions will be effective on January 1. They are set to take place as ICF brings together shops Olson Engage, Olson Digital, Olson1to1, PulsePoint Group, The Future Customer, and We Are Vista into a marketing and communications agency called ICF Next next month. ICF Next will have revenue of more than $300 million and clients including BMW, Kraft Heinz, Lloyd’s, Luxottica, MillerCoors, Mars, and U.S. and E.U. government agencies.

Specht and Ewald will both report to ICF Next president John Armstrong.

Specht was most recently president of Olson Engage. In his new role, he will lead business development, marketing, and communication strategies at the group level and promote the ICF Next brand to consultants, analysts, potential clients, and prospective talent.

"I look across the businesses that have come together and, without exception, they all have the DNA of a challenger and disruptor in their respective markets and that is an exciting opportunity for us: to bring the businesses together and be a challenger to consultancies, holding companies, and larger agencies," said Specht. "We can do that better as one organization as ICF Next."

Specht has worked at the agency for more than a decade. He served as president of Olson Engage from 2012 to 2017 before his role was expanded to lead Olson. Before that, he was COO of Olson Engage, known previously as Dig Communications, until 2012.

"[Specht] has helped lead Olson Engage (and more recently, brand engagement) through multiple waves of significant change and modernization, guiding the business through many stages of growth and a strong list of accolades and client wins that would be the envy of any organization," Armstrong said in an internal memo shared with PRWeek.

Ewald will take on Specht’s previous responsibilities as Olson and Olson Engage president and oversee 200 staffers. She will also continue to bring the Chicago and Minneapolis teams closer together as ICF Next launches.

"We have some of the best talent and trusted relationships with clients in the business, so we are excited to bring them more of that and continue to develop our talent to be able to lead our clients into the future," Ewald said.

Armstrong said in the memo that Ewald has been an "integral part of the success" of Olson Engage, its staffers, and clients for the last 12 years.

"I am very excited for her to assume this leadership role and lead our team of creatives, communicators, and strategists into this next chapter," he said.

Ewald was a PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree in 2015, and was named a Champion of PR last year.

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