Richard Beaven

Chairman-CEO, Initiative

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Richard Beaven is one of a cadre of executives remaking U.S. media agencies. After joining Initiative as CEO-North America in 2006, he rose rapidly on the back of major account wins and a go-ahead business style that's helped foster a new confidence at the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop.

Mr. Beaven's ascent was complete in January, when he was named chairman-CEO, taking the reins from Alec Gerster. Mr. Beaven, who has been at the agency two years this month, is now in charge of some 3,000 employees around the globe.
Richard Beaven, chairman-CEO, Initiative
Richard Beaven, chairman-CEO, Initiative

Under Mr. Beaven, 42, Initiative has picked up some $1 billion in pitch wins from the likes of Hyundai/Kia, Cadbury Schweppes and Burlington Coat Factory. Last year, Initiative also grew business with Bayer (which handed the agency planning to go with its buying assignment) and Quiznos, among others.

All this activity has eyes trained on Mr. Beaven's next step at the agency. His initial focus was to give Initiative greater definition and promote and hire new talent. The next stage will see whether the agency can hang on to Home Depot. The retail chain mandated a review of all agencies in July as part of a new procurement process.

Client Jay Kolpon, VP-marketing and new business at Bayer Consumer Care, has dinner with Mr. Beaven a couple times a year and says he admires his grace under fire.

"He was key to winning the whole business. ... My sense is he's an aggressive person, yet his calm, British demeanor gives you confidence that things are under control."

Mr. Beaven says he's always enjoyed studying people and is a documentary-photography enthusiast. "There are a lot of parallels with that world and advertising," he says. "The classic imperative for documentary photography is that if your pictures aren't good, you're not close enough."

As for managing the revival of Initiative: "I've always really enjoyed the change and transformation process," he says.

Mr. Beaven brought with him to Initiative sizable knowledge of how the best in the ad business operate. As exec VP-managing director at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest USA, he worked on Procter & Gamble Co.'s communications-planning business and earlier with Coca-Cola Co.

"So many people approach this business as being overly complex," Mr. Beaven says. "It comes down to very simple things that need to be well-executed -- giving the company a good sense of strengths, having values and a leadership team focused on delivery."
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