VR Resets Its Top Management

Valentine Radford has reshuffled top management to increase the shop’s focus on integrated services, specifically the interactive arena.

Siobhan Lesley becomes president and chief operating officer of the Kansas City, Mo., shop. Formerly the agency’s director of client services, Lesley will manage daily operations and focus on client retention and new business development.

John Sowell, formerly head of the shop’s account management department, succeeds Lesley as director of client services.

According to chief executive officer Chuck Curtis, the moves will allow him more time to focus on his vision of building the $160 million shop into a hybrid of interactive and traditional agencies.

“Siobhan and John can concentrate on keeping our clients happy, and I can focus on our Internet strategy,” Curtis said.

Under Curtis’ plan, the agency has not created a stand-alone division for its interactive work but has attempted to employ interactive initiatives within each of the agency’s disciplines.

The shift in agency focus led to the departure earlier this year of executive creative director Bob Simon [Adweek, April 10]. Bill Ost, a 10-year VR veteran, was named his successor.

Curtis said an additional goal of the new management set up is to foster a better organization for new business growth. Since 1997, the agency has only increased its billings 11 percent.

The agency expects to beat those numbers in 2001, setting a growth goal of 20 percent, Lesley said. About a third of that is expected to come from interactive project work, she said.

“With the world of interactive, there’s a lot more project work out there,” she said. “We’re not straying far from our core competencies of marketing and design, but we want to do more of it on a project basis.”

The agency has also put together a self-marketing plan that calls for some advertising and in-creased involvement from Curtis in civic and business organizations, she said.

Separately, Norm Olson joined the shop from Harris Drury Cohen in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as media director.