R/GA Appoints New Global Chief Strategy Officer, Parts Ways With N.Y. Managing Director

More changes at agency's New York office

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R/GA confirmed to Adweek today that it has promoted a new global chief strategy officer and parted ways with its New York managing director of planning. This news marks the latest in a string of changes at the IPG agency this summer.

R/GA promoted veteran staffer Barry Wacksman to the role of global chief strategy officer in June. An agency spokesperson tells Adweek that "We are very happy to report that after 16 years as chief growth officer, Barry Wacksman has been named R/GA's global chief strategy officer." The spokesperson adds that the new CSO is "currently working with the strategy and planning teams across R/GA's global network to further evolve the discipline and ensure that it continues to meet the rapidly changing needs of our clients."

Wacksman, who is a widely-published writer and co-author of 2014's Connected by Design, joined R/GA in 1999 when it was but a scrappy upstart with one office and fewer than 50 employees.

The agency describes him as "a key architect" of its digital-first strategy, "The Connected Age," which posits that present-day clients are best served by "a connected ecosystem of products, services and communications." That strategy led Adweek to name R/GA the digital agency of the year in 2014.

Before the promotion this summer, Wacksman held the evp/global chief growth officer position and "led the charge" on many of the new business wins accumulated during his tenure, chief among them Nike, Samsung and Unilever. In his new role, he will continue to report directly to founder and CEO Bob Greenberg.

R/GA also confirmed that it parted ways with New York managing director of insights and planning Graham Phillips this week.

Phillips joined the agency almost exactly one year ago after serving as partner and chief strategy officer at the now-defunct Silver+Partners, which shut down in February after losing its biggest client CarMax. Founder Eric Silver then joined McCann Worldwide as North American chief creative officer. 

Prior to his time at Silver+Partners, Phillips held executive planning positions at BBDO, JWT, BBH New York, BSSP and Ogilvy & Mather.

R/GA announced Phillips' hire early this year at the same time top New York strategist Andrea Ring was promoted to the svp of planning role, and he worked under her as managing director of communications planning.

These changes effectively end what has been a transformative summer for R/GA's New York office.

Vp and head of client services Jonathan Goldmacher left for 360i in June before Ring joined smaller Brooklyn agency Big Spaceship as CSO after more than a decade with the R/GA organization. In July, the agency parted ways with U.S. president Seth Solomons, later re-hiring former svp of operations and planning Sean Lyons (who had departed for a chief digital officer role at Havas in 2013) to replace him.

Agency founder and CEO Bob Greenberg is famous for adjusting his shop's focus and priorities every few years in large-scale "reshuffling" moves that often include C-level staffing changes. While the agency has no comment on the matter, sources tell Adweek that this summer's changes are not part of such a shift, the last of which happened about two years ago.

Adweek also has no word on R/GA's plans to restaff its planning team after the departures of Ring and Graham.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.