GN&P Enlists Research Vet

Carolyne Berkeley spent more than two decades at large, global advertising agencies prior to joining 25-person Gardner Nelson & Partners in New York as director of strategic planning. So far, she has nothing but good things to say about small-agency life—which isn’t to say the move hasn’t required some adjustment.

“You have to do your own copying,” said Berkeley, 51, who also was named the New York independent shop’s seventh partner.

Berkeley left Omnicom Group’s BBDO New York last summer after 10 years at the agency, most recently serving as svp, group director for planning and research. She began freelancing at Gardner Nelson, having worked with president Steve Gardner earlier in her career at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather.

“I just wanted to see what the other side was like,” said Berkeley, whose résumé includes stints in strategy and research positions at Ogilvy, Lowe and Backer Spielvogel Bates.

Now, working with a small group that makes decisions quickly is “just a real refreshing way to get things done,” Berkeley said. At large agencies, “it’s harder to get to a consensus.”

Berkeley’s position at GN&P has been vacant since last year, when Sue Manber left the agency, Gardner said. Hiring a veteran of big agencies whose account experience includes Pepsi and KFC fits with “the whole premise of our company, [which] is to have seasoned, veteran talent that actually does the work,” he said.

A Massachusetts native, Berkeley majored in art history at Smith College before going on to get an MBA from Columbia University. Though she had no thought of getting into marketing as an undergrad, Berkeley believes her degree is not antithetical to her eventual career in strategy and research. “Art history is about understanding a culture and how it expresses itself,” she explained.

When not working, Berkeley enjoys cooking, gardening and spending time with her 10-year-old daughter.