Vonk and Kestin Launch Training Consultancy

Ex-O&M creative leaders fill a void in advertising

Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin have turned the dearth of training in the ad industry into a business model.

Vonk and Kestin, co-chief creative officers of the Toronto office of Ogilvy & Mather, are leaving the agency to launch Swim, a company that will help train and nurture creative staffers. The business opens next month.

"With agencies no longer investing time and money to bring people along, it's pretty much 'sink or swim,' and a lot of talented people sink," Vonk said in a statement. "Careers are stalling, work is suffering, and retention is poor."

Swim will offer in-person and online training, and incorporate the experiences of leaders from many creatively driven industries. The company will work primarily with agencies. Its first client is the duo's former employer: Ogilvy.

In unveiling the business, Vonk cited a spring Adweek story that illustrated how a Starbucks barista gets more training than the average agency staffer. That story stemmed from a talent management survey that Arnold global CEO Andrew Benett unveiled at a 4A's conference in March.

To fill the CCO slot that Vonk and Kestin are vacating, Ogilvy named Ian MacKellar, executive creative director at Canadian independent shop Bensimon Byrne. Earlier in his career, MacKellar was a creative leader at BBDO Toronto.