John St. looks to future with management changes

New seven-member management team takes over day-to-day operations

John St. has notified its clients that the agency has shifted its management structure. Eighteen months after being acquired by holding company WPP, the agency isn’t billing the new team as a changing of the guard, but a move to ensure the long-term vitality of the agency brand.

John St.'s current leadership team is handing over its daily duties

John St.’s current leadership team is handing over its daily duties

According to an e-mail sent to clients on Tuesday, the five agency partners – president Arthur Fleischmann, co-executive creative directors Angus Tucker and Stephen Jurisic, managing director Jane Tucker and strategic planning director Emily Bain – will take on more long-term planning assignments while still offering “counsel and leadership to our clients and staff.” The newly struck management team is charged with day-to-day oversight of client work and agency management.

“We tend to think of the levels of management in terms of time horizons,” Fleischmann told Marketing. “If the leadership team’s job is to focus on clients and broader issues, we take a two-to-five year time horizon on business. In addition to client counseling, there’s looking at where the agency is going to be heading over the next five years, market growth, geographies, that sort of thing. The management team is managing the day-to-day processes at the agency – integration, how services get executed and all the client work.

“It’s not a revolutionary change for us. [The management team’s] day jobs don’t change very much, but by bringing them together and giving them some decision-making power, it frees the partners up to focus on the broader issues.”

The new management team includes:

• Ian Brooks, co-director of client service
Heather Crawley, co-director of client service
Mavis Huntley, director of integrated production
Joanna Groszek, CFO
Megan Towers, co-director of strategic planning
Jason Last, co-director of strategic planning

Last is currently a senior planner at Leo Burnett Toronto and is returning to John St., where he worked from 2008 to 2012.

The agency is also currently looking to hire at least one new creative director following the June departure of Nellie Kim and Chris Hirsch, who are set to open LG2’s first Toronto office. Fleischmann said John St now has a short list of candidates for the position(s).

Often when agency founders and presidents begin to pull back from day-to-day duties, it heralds their eventual departure. When asked if this was the first step of a full-scale executive change following the WPP acquisition, Fleischmann said “not really.” According to the agency president, the partners’ committment to WPP after the acquisition is “for the long term.”

However, while saying that “all of [the partners] are young enough that we’re not going anywhere” and that “none of us plans to retire in the near future,” Fleischmann does indicate this tweak in management structure will play in role in determining the agency’s future after the founders have moved on.

“What we’ve noticed is that agencies don’t build a brand,” he said. “They keep it concentrated with one or two founders and it doesn’t have momentum into the future. We don’t want to go that way. We want a brand that lives on with some permanence.

“I can’t tell you exactly what we’ll be doing over the next three to six years, but I can tell you that we want John St. to be a brand that lives no matter who the management team is.”

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