LONDON — Technology specialist agency Harvard has changed its leadership structure, with chief executive Louie St Claire – who has led the firm for a decade – stepping up to become non-executive chairman, while Ellie Thompson, currently managing director of the Harvard PR business, steps up into the CEO role.
St Claire will continue to work closely with Thompson on creative, new business and D&I efforts, as well as providing consultancy across its parent group, Chime. He joined the agency in 2011, after being a director at Octopus Group and senior in-house PR roles at Microsoft and O2.
Thompson also joined the agency in 2011, after account director roles at Band & Brown and Hill+Knowlton. She will be supported as CEO by a leadership team including marketing services MD Andrew Last, who joined last year, as well as planning and strategy lead Pete Marcus, client service director Fiona Bates, business development director Georgina Greenspan, executive creative director Marc Allenby and PR director Lorna Hughes.
Under St Claire and Thompson’s leadership, Harvard revenues have has grown by an average 24% every year for 10 years, growing from 10 to 85 people and counting Cisco, Vodafone, Dropbox, Square, Bloomberg and NetApp amongst its client base. The agency achieved ally status with the Blueprint D&I mark last month.
St Claire told PRovoke: “It’s been an incredible journey. Running a business, you have to put everything into it, and it’s the right time for me to focus on other things. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but in time I could provide a lot of value on growing agencies, and I’d love to get more involved in DE&I. But I still love Harvard and it’s still my focus.”
He added: “We have an incredible team taking over. When you make transitions everyone needs to know who’s the boss, so it was best to make my new role non-executive. I can’t wait to see the company progress under Ellie’s leadership, while having some time to look at other opportunities. It really is the best of both worlds.”
The agency will replace Thompson’s role as MD of PR, after the transition. Thompson told PRovoke she was “incredibly excited” about taking on the CEO role: “Being part of Harvard’s growth over the past 10 years has been the highlight of my career and I’m humbled to be taking on the leadership.”
And she said she would not be making any immediate changes to the running of the business: “We have a brilliant business plan, which the whole board worked on at the end of last year as a rock-solid strategy to take us forward for the next 10 years. There are real opportunities in diversification of our services, and we have big global ambitions, but I’m keen to take time to make sure the transition is smooth. It’s all about consistency for our people and our clients.”
Chime COO Jo Parker added: “I have had the pleasure of working closely with Louie and Ellie and the Harvard team for the past six years. They are constantly evolving and innovating and have an incredibly talented team across the agency. I have no doubt this next chapter, led by Ellie with Louie’s counsel will bring further opportunities for all. I would like to thank Louie for his leadership and all he has done for Harvard over the past ten years.”