40 Under 40 2019 | Leah Hattendorf

"I have to change to stay the same," is Leah Hattendorf’s work motto. A quote by the artist Willem de Kooning, it’s a sentiment that has served her well over the course of her multifaceted career.

Before moving over to group strategy director at Havas in July, Hattendorf had been at Current Global since 2017 and was promoted to EVP of strategy and insights in April of this year. Highlights of her tenure at the agency included developing its strategy practice and contributing to the addition of new clients, notably Applebee’s Bar & Grill, Mondeléz confectionery and Omni Hotels & Resorts. Altogether, over the past 18 months she had been instrumental in new business wins valued at $4.3 million in revenue. 

Hattendorf’s career began on the agency side, with stints at DDB and FCB, where she was promoted to an account supervisor thanks to her work helping reinvent the Jell-O and Cool Whip brands. Next up was a position at JWT, where she managed the agency’s North America work on Kleenex, followed by an SVP, director of strategy role at Chicago-based agency The Escape Pod. While she was there, Hattendorf was involved with the Wheat Thins Eat This campaign and social content strategy for the Kind brand. 

A consistent advocate for women in the industry, Hattendorf participates in the She Runs It mentoring program, both as a mentor and a mentee. Within Current Global, she is known as someone who is always willing to share her passions, talents and advice, particularly to younger co-workers who want to follow the blazing path she’s set. 

  • While at JWT, Hattendorf was the youngest employee to be named business director in more than a decade.
  • At Current Global, she started a training program to educate teams on branding and PR strategy. She also founded an office book club. 
  • Hattendorf is an abstract painter whose work explores human connection, both physical and emotional, in today’s digital environment.

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