Michael O’Brien as Chief Client Officer for Ketchum
NEW YORK and WASHINGTON, October 31, 2016
Ketchum, one of the world’s leading communications consultancies, today announced that partner Michael O’Brien has been appointed chief client officer for the global agency, succeeding partner and current chief client officer Jerry Olszewski, effective immediately. Olszewski, who has served in the dual role of chief client officer and managing director of Ketchum’s Washington, D.C., office since last September, will focus on the continued growth and development of that office as well as continuing to serve on the agency’s Global Leadership Council.
As director of client development for North America, O’Brien has successfully led a number of complex client engagements and established an analytical approach to client satisfaction and retention in the region. In his new role, O’Brien will be responsible for client satisfaction, growth, retention and ensuring an exceptional experience in every aspect of a client’s interaction with Ketchum. Following the model developed by Olszewski, O’Brien will continue to help evolve Ketchum’s client director role into an orchestrator of specialists and will serve as a coach and mentor to client directors worldwide.
“With Michael’s long career as an exceptional client counselor and his diverse industry experience, I can’t think of a better person to evolve our client experience strategy and innovate in ways that elevate our value to clients,” said Olszewski. “We are both big believers in the obligation to deliver an outstanding end-to-end client experience, and I am so pleased to pass the torch to such a good colleague and friend.”
Ketchum partner and president Barri Rafferty added, “Michael always operates from the outside-in, being totally immersed in clients’ needs, opportunities and the business contexts in which they operate. He is a stellar client counselor working with the top echelons of the C-suite, helping them build brands and navigate reputation. He has had a hands-on approach to building and maintaining some of our largest client engagements in North America, and I know he will do great things now working with our clients globally.”
Olszewski assumed the interim role of managing director of Ketchum’s Washington, D.C., office in September 2015. Under his leadership, the office has demonstrated double-digit growth and a rich new business pipeline, contributing to the office’s reputation as a public affairs powerhouse. Now committing his full attention to the office, Olszewski will work full-time on accelerating growth opportunities for Ketchum’s clients and its talent in Washington, D.C.
“Jerry has had a sweeping and fundamental impact on our approach to client service,” said Rob Flaherty, partner, chairman and CEO of Ketchum. “In his years as chief client officer, he established a culture of fearless listening and methodically professionalized and operationalized the client experience. He defined and elevated the client director role into a recognized career path, built a vibrant client director community, and conducted inspiring client director meetings. Across our entire global business, Jerry has helped ensure that we keep our clients at the center of everything we do.”
Olszewski built his career at Ketchum, joining the Washington, D.C., office in 1980 and working there for 10 years, managing client programs focusing on environmental communications, public affairs, corporate reputation, employee communications and crisis communications. In 1991, he relocated to Ketchum’s Munich office for three years, followed by five years in London, where he was responsible for Ketchum’s operations in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He returned to Washington in 1999 and has served as chief client officer since 2008.
O’Brien first joined Ketchum in 1997 and led the New York Brand Marketing Practice until his departure in 2004. From 2004 to 2009 he served as head of Cohn & Wolfe’s global brand practice and president of Cohn & Wolfe New York. He returned to Ketchum as EVP and director of New York client service in 2009, was named a partner in 2010 and was promoted to director of client development for North America in 2012.
O’Brien was named to Ketchum’s new 19-member Global Leadership Council (GLC) in June along with Olszewski, who previously served on the agency’s Executive Committee.
Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. The winner of 19 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented five PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations.