Ben Boyd leaves Edelman after 14 years to join BCW

He starts September 3 as global chief strategy and operations officer.

NEW YORK: BCW has hired Ben Boyd as global chief strategy and operations officer, effective September 3. 

In the newly created role, Boyd will report to BCW global CEO Donna Imperato across all five of the agency’s global regions on strategy, operations and client development. He will become a member of BCW’s board of directors and will be based in New York.

"We have done a good job with the team doing the merger and succeeding in delivering growth and having high employee satisfaction," said Imperato. "Now we want to get to the next level and be the best agency in this industry and across disciplines."

Boyd’s main focuses at the firm will include managing critical client relationships, helping to develop new business and advising on intellectual property development. His number of direct reports has not been determined.

Imperato explained that she and Boyd have been in talks for "quite a few months." She realized he would be an ideal partner to help her achieve BCW’s goal of creating an agency that addresses the industry’s needs as they evolve in a "quick, strategic way with great vision and results."

"He is probably the only one on the leadership team that will partner with me across everything operationally and strategically across all our regions," said Imperato. "It’s an exciting time because there is so much to do as we build and transform the BCW brand at a time when the industry is really changing."

Boyd noted that he was "impressed" with what BCW’s leadership team has accomplished since last February’s merger of WPP’s Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe into a fresh entity. Initially branded Burson Cohn & Wolfe, the firm immediately became the third-largest firm in the world.

"I have been a builder and solver at scale," said Boyd. "I saw an opportunity to come and further grow and flex those muscles at an agency that I viewed as the largest proven startup in the industry at a point in time when clients and talent in our industry want and need more and need a new way of tackling increasingly complex business problems."

Boyd’s appointment will not affect global president Jim Joseph’s role at BCW, said Imperato.

"[Joseph] is an essential part of the leadership team," said Imperato. "He spent a lot of time with [Boyd] over the last few months, as well. This is an important hire."

Boyd is joining BCW from Edelman, where he has worked in various roles for 14 years. In his most recent position as chief client strategy officer, he has overseen the agency’s client experience program, counseling C-suite executives and partnering with the firm’s top clients. He also led Edelman’s signature intellectual property studies, including The Trust Barometer. Before that, he spent 11 years at the helm of Edelman’s global corporate practice, overseeing global practices and sectors, managing the firm’s global marketing function and leading key clients.

His last day at Edelman will be this Friday. 

"A 14-year chapter is not one that is easy to close," Boyd said. "There is a lot of emotion in that and a degree of loss. Clients and colleagues I have spoken with have been incredibly supportive and brought tears to my eyes in terms of their embrace in terms of what this means to me professionally and that is a rare gift."

An Edelman representative said that the firm is grateful for Boyd’s contributions and its clients. "We wish him well in his next endeavor," the representative said.

For the past year, Boyd and global chief client officer Lisa Sepulveda have been running Edelman’s global client relationship program. Moving forward, Sepulveda will helm that program when asked about who will replace Boyd.

Prior to Edelman, Boyd was assistant to the president and director of communications at the Service Employees International Union, where he managed the national communications campaign for a newly relevant labor movement and oversaw SEIU’s earned, paid, social and new media strategies nationally.

Previously, he served as director of communications for SITA, one of the world’s largest providers of IT resources for the air transport industry. Before that, he was VP of marketing and communications for barnesandnoble.com, launching the site and taking the company through an initial public offering. Earlier in his career, he held senior roles at Weber Shandwick and Hill & Knowlton, according to a release.  

BCW's revenue was up 3% last year to $711 million, while Edelman's dropped by 1% to $888.4 million, according to PRWeek's Agency Business Report

In April, WPP reported that revenue for its PR and public affairs segment was down 0.3% on a like-for-like basis in Q1 to $348.8 million. WPP’s PR firms also include Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Finsbury. PR and public affairs make up 9.2% of the group.

This story was updated on July 10 with additional information.

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