Jennings Joins GCI In N.Y.

Walter Jennings, recently named evp and head of the North American corporate practice of GCI, says his life as a public relations executive has been “a little like Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey.”

His career has taken the 42-year-old Flemington, N.J., native from New York to cities such as Sydney and Hong Kong. Now Jennings is back in New York, overseeing about 15 employees at Grey Global Group’s GCI, where his duties include business consulting, corporate-reputation management and media relations for clients such as Dell.

Jennings, who reports to CEO Bob Feldman, arrives from Ford Motor Credit Co. in Detroit, where he was vp of global communications for five years. Ford “was a great job and a great company, but … my style is best suited to the agency environment,” Jennings said, describing himself as a “bit of an entrepreneur, salesman and consultant.”

A double major in French and economics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., Jennings began his career in 1984 at WPP Group’s Hill & Knowlton in New York, then moved to independent Edelman. In 1990, his job at Edelman took him to Australia, where he stayed for six years. After that, he moved to Hong Kong and managed financial and corporate communications for the China operations of consultancy Gavin Anderson & Co.

Feldman cited Jennings’ international and corporate-reputation experience as key to his hiring. “[Jennings] represents the caliber of talent we believe is going to make the greatest impact on the growth of the firm over the coming years,” Feldman said.

Jennings, who speaks Mandarin and French and writes fiction in his spare time, said his tenure overseas has aided him in his job. “These global experiences have helped me become a better communicator,” he said.