SAN FRANCISCO: Strange Brew Strategies has hired former BCW New York tech lead Laura Anderson McGrath as EVP after tapping Mixing Board for an executive search.
McGrath's hire is the next step in expansion for Strange Brew, which at almost five years old has more than doubled in size to a 25-person, technology-focused shop. It’s represented publicly traded or multi-billion-dollar companies including American Express, Cloudflare, Dataiku and GitHub.
McGrath joined Strange Brew from BCW, where she was EVP and technology lead in the agency's New York office. She has also held tech-focused leadership roles at ICR, MikeWorldWide and MSL. A BCW representative did not respond to requests for comment about McGrath’s replacement.
McGrath will be Strange Brew’s second employee on the East Coast and will lead efforts to grow its team in the region. She will report to cofounders John O'Brien and Dave Donohue.
"In the tech space, client work from an agency perspective is often a recycled approach to data and analytics, which gets a little draining after a while," McGrath said. "Strange Brew has an incredible mix of all those things that are authentic and real and grounded in what we all like to do here, which is media relations."
Strange Brew connected with Mixing Board, a consultancy with an experimental ad hoc business model, in February and was the first to engage its community of more than 100 comms experts to help make a senior hire.
Recruitment is a new area for Mixing Board, which specialized in expertise and mentorship when Pramana Collective's Sean Garrett launched it in January, but senior communications leaders were using Garrett as an unofficial resource for talent.
"I figured that if we have a large group of those who are the first calls of those looking for ideas for roles, why not create a way to pool people's perspectives and networks, and reward them financially?" Garrett said.
Connecting through Garrett's industry contacts lended credibility and surety to McGrath's decision to switch agencies, she said.
"The [chief communications officer] who contacted me about the position was a former client, so we had already established a connection," McGrath said. "When she reached out, that was an immediate validator that she'd found this amazing opportunity that sounded written for me."
O'Brien and Donohue said they plan to continue their relationship with Mixing Board, both for recruitment but also access to industry experts.
"[Garrett] has created something that is very disruptive, and especially on the recruiting front I see this as the future of how this industry will work," said Donohue. "John and I have more gray hair than we used to, so our employees' networks remain our best source for junior talent but Mixing Board's networks are the best for recruiting at senior levels."