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Announcing our new global leadership team

15 June 2017

Essence’s global CEO, Christian Juhl, today announced five new additions to the agency’s leadership team.  The appointments follow GroupM’s recent commitment to adding offline media capabilities, an expanded geographic footprint and an influx of talent to Essence.  As such, four of the five executives are joining Essence from GroupM.  This announcement is the first in what will be a series of updates from the agency pertaining to new clients, new talent appointments, new locations and new capabilities. 

The expanded leadership team–built by Juhl to transform Essence into a digital-first full-service agency–is charged with integrating offline capabilities into the agency’s offering, while continuing to look at all media through a data lens.

“For years, Essence has harnessed granular event-level data to deeply understand audiences, moments and outcomes to deliver world-class digital advertising,” said Juhl.  “Our firm intent is to apply the very same techniques, combined with machine learning and new modelling approaches, to inform targeting decisions and measurement across all media channels.  This requires us to bring on leaders with a broad range of skillsets and experience.”

To that end, Steve Williams has been named CEO of North America; he currently holds this title at Maxus.  Williams is charged with driving innovation, client satisfaction and employee satisfaction throughout the region.  Having cut his teeth in the full-service agency environment, previously Williams built out OMD UK Group, and, with his move to the US in 2012, he led PHD USA as President.  Rob Reifenheiser, current CEO of The Americas, will transition into the newly created role of Executive Director; helping Essence with the important task of winning, onboarding and integrating complex multi-agency clients across both the agency and GroupM. 

Nick Baughan will become CEO of EMEA, after serving as CEO of Maxus UK.  He will be responsible for leading the 260+ person region and its impressive client roster (the Financial Times, Google, FrieslandCampina). Since joining the UK office of Maxus in 2012, Baughan tripled the size of the company while simultaneously securing its status as the highest-rated agency on The Sunday Times‘ “Top 100 Employers to Work for” list.  As announced yesterday, Jenny Bullis, Essence’s current CEO of EMEA, is moving into the role of Chief Strategy Officer for [m]PLATFORM.

Damian Blackden joins as Chief Strategy Officer; he currently holds the title at Maxus.  Blackden will design the agency’s proposition, which will include bridging digital and analogue by applying Essence’s digital-first techniques to all channels.  He’s a digital pioneer who conceived and launched Zenith’s digital business and has since held leadership roles at UM and Omnicom Media Group.

Given the agency’s evolved proposition, Essence is also announcing the creation of two new practices: Strategy & Analytics, which brings together its current Strategy, Analytics and Data Strategy disciplines; and Experience Design, consisting of the agency’s existing Creative and Digital Tech teams.

Simeon Duckworth will step into the role of Global Head of Strategy & Analytics, responsible for driving Essence’s proven analytical capability into a fused discipline of cross-channel communication strategy.  He has worked in the space for over 20 years in both media and creative, most recently as Head of Data and Analytics Strategic Development at GroupM. Prior, he spent nearly 15 years at Mindshare as its Global Head of Analytics and Research, and Head of Futures.

Garrick Schmitt has been named Global Director, Experience Design, charged with further bridging Essence’s regional creative teams across North America, EMEA and APAC.  He most recently co-founded Junior, a company that invented digital products and services, and before that spent 15 years at Razorfish, culminating as Managing Director and North American Lead of Service Innovation.

“We have felt incredibly well-supported by GroupM since joining their ranks a year and a half ago,” added Juhl.  “And, this new infusion of truly top-tier talent into Essence is yet another example of WPP’s ongoing commitment to our success.”

Williams, Baughan and Blackden will report directly into Juhl, and Reifenheiser will continue to, as well.  Duckworth and Schmitt will report into Andrew Shebbeare, Chief Product Officer.

Schmitt has already joined the agency. Williams, Baughan, Blackden and Duckworth will be transitioning into their new roles over the coming months.

The new members join Juhl’s existing leadership team which includes Shebbeare; Cathy Carl, chief marketing officer; Dan Dobson-Smith, chief learning and culture officer; Jennifer Remling, chief talent officer; Kyoko Matsushita, APAC CEO; Nick Byrd, chief finance officer and Richard Mooney, global operations director.

Check out The Wall Street Journal to learn more.