Andy Polansky, one of the PR industry's longest-tenured executives, is retiring in June after a 38-year career with Weber Shandwick and affiliated Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies.
Polansky is credited, among other things, with evolving Weber from a traditional PR agency into a data-savvy creative powerhouse and leading the agency throughout what IPG calls "an era of profound digital disruption and heightened global demand for innovative public relations and strategic communications," along with Weber CEO Gail Heimann.
Polansky in 2019 was tapped in as CEO of IPG Dxtra, a global collective of the holding company's agencies including Golin, Octagon, FutureBrand and Jack Morton, but he is best known for his longstanding career at Weber, where he previously held the titles of president and CEO and is currently executive chairman.
"This news is the definition of bittersweet," said Heimann. "I’m excited for Andy and his next chapter, and of course he will be missed by many. And by me. We’ve had a decades-long partnership that has meant so many things to me both personally and professionally. Andy brought not just enormous talent, compassion and care for craft. He has a unique ability to elevate people to the center of business and bring people together around a common goal. He’s had an outsized impact on the communications profession, on Weber Shandwick—and for thousands along his path."
Calling Polansky "one of the most powerful voices in marketing services and public relations," Philippe Krakowsky, CEO of IPG, said "so many of our clients and the marketing services industry as a whole are all better for Andy’s humanity, integrity and vision." He added: "The strong businesses and teams he built are testament to his approach to leading with directness and compassion.”
In this interview, Polansky offers some insights about the shifting nature of PR at Weber and within the industry and outlines plans for his next chapter. This conversation is lightly edited for length and clarity.
Why are you retiring now?
It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, probably put off a bit given the pandemic, as it was important to continue to partner with our teams and our clients as we navigated all the related issues over the last couple of years. But I feel our teams are in a really strong position as are all of our brands across the portfolio. We had a great performance in 2021. So I feel like it's a good time. I think we have very strong leadership across our brands, a lot of depth around the world on our team. So after 38 years, I thought it was time to look forward to the next chapter.
What is that next chapter going to look like?
I've been getting that question a lot. I certainly want to spend more time with my family and do a lot of traveling with my wife, Maria, and travel around the world in the coming years. But I have a lot of energy and certainly want to apply my skill set to interesting board positions and nonprofits where my skill set could be helpful. I want to continue to mentor young professionals in the industry. And then I want to teach a bit as well. I want to play more pickleball, too.