NEW YORK, May 25—In a move designed to position the firm for growth in Latin America, GCI Group has announced a restructuring of its management structure in the Americas. Bob Pearson, currently president of GCI North America has been named president of GCI Americas and Jeff Hunt—who joined GCI when the firm acquired Read-Poland Associates in Texas—has been named to the additional post of president, GCI Latin America.
According to agency president Bob Feldman, “Latin America has become an important priority for us, but we can only succeed in Latin America if we leverage the clients we have in the U.S. and find a way to provide integrated service to them across the continent. So rather than running Latin America as a completely separate region as we do Europe and Asia-Pacific, we are integrating it with North America and giving Bob Pearson responsibility for both.”
Pearson joined GCI in 1998 to start up the firm’s North American healthcare practice and was promoted two years later to his current North American responsibility. Before joining Read-Poland earlier this year, Hunt held several positions with Burson-Marsteller, at one time serving as president of the firm’s Latin American operations.
“Jeff’s experience in Latin America is extensive,” says Feldman. “We would be crazy not to take advantage of that.”
GCI currently has a significant presence in Mexico City, and smaller office in Venezuela and Peru, as well as affiliates in major Latin American markets such as Argentina and Brazil. Feldman says the firm is unlikely to make further acquisitions in the region this year, because of concerns about the region’s economy, but that it expects to move aggressively in 2002.
“Our priority right now is North America, but we will be looking at our relationships in Latin America and lining some things up,” Feldman says.
In an additional move, Ken Willis, currently president of GCI Atlanta, will take on the additional responsibility of overseeing the firm’s interactive business, including Elemental Interactive, a Grey sister company that was added to the GCI operation last year. Willis will also serve on a newly created U.S. executive committee and as chair the U.S. operations committee.