JWT Taps Scalea

J. Walter Thompson has hired Rob Scalea, a veteran of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, as chief strategy officer for North America, a new post.

Scalea, who was managing director, strategic consulting at Boston-based Hill, Holliday, is charged with creating a business-consulting practice at JWT. To start, he will focus on clients such as Merrill Lynch, Uni lever and the Diamond Trading Co. He will also work with global business director Colleen Gowl to grow a fledgling healthcare unit.

“It’s all about client focus and having clients see added value,” said Bob Jeffrey, JWT’s North American president, who said that Scalea, 46, will “bring a whole different skill set that we don’t have right now.”

With the new division, the New York shop seeks to reclaim ground that agencies have lost in recent years to outside consultancies, such as McKinsey & Co. And by starting the practice from scratch, JWT hopes to weave it more seamlessly into its other disciplines, Jeffrey said. Scalea is expected to work closely with David Lamb, JWT’s worldwide planning director.

At Hill, Holliday, where Scalea spent seven years, he was among a handful of evps and a mem ber of the shop’s executive committee. He ran a 10-person consulting group there that worked on accounts such as Fidelity Investments, LoJack and Humana.

Before that, Scalea ran a brand consultancy, Scalea & Co., with cli ents such as Hyatt and SAP. He holds degrees in molecular biology and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.