SAN FRANCISCO – NetApp’s Jodi Baumann is joining Hill + Knowlton to lead its US tech practice and as general manager to reverse the fortunes of its Bay Area operation.
Baumann — a NetApp veteran for the past decade — has been senior director of global communications since 2009, managing a team of more than 20 people in variety of areas, including worldwide PR, social media, executive leadership and crisis communications.
On September 15, she joins H+K’s struggling San Francisco operation in the dual role. Earlier this summer, former US tech head Hadley Wilkins parted ways with the agency after a series of sector losses, including Salesforce to Nectar, Qualcomm to Weber Shandwick and Polycom to subsidiary agency Blanc & Otus. During the interim, B&O CEO — and H+K’s former global tech head — Joshua Reynolds stepped into Wilkins’ role.
“Tech companies of all sizes and types are either facing or causing disruption —or both — as new business and technology models have emerged,” Reynolds told the Holmes Report about the recent tech leadership churn that has afflicted many of the big agencies. “When this much challenge and opportunity is afoot, it’s not surprising to see a fair amount of talent churn as people re-assess their futures. It does seem to come and go in cycles, and in tech the cycles always happen just a little faster.”
Other insiders say the tech practice turnover is the result of a diminishing number of million-dollar RFIs in part due to of consolidation among the big tech players, but also because companies are more likely to distribute assignments across several agencies and to move more work in-house.
In addition to Wilkins, in recent months Ketchum named Susan Butenhoff as its new head of global tech, Burson-Marsteller’s US head of tech Sabrina Guttman moved to Hewlett-Packard; Edelman’s global tech head Joe Paluska resigned; Weber Shandwick’s global tech head Tim Fry parted ways with the firm; and Ogilvy PR’s former global head of tech Luca Penati (now with Weber Shandwick) stepped down.
The move also comes after a series of shakeups in H+K’s US leadership. In May, H+K’s longtime San Francisco GM Paul Turner left after more than a decade at the firm to become communications SVP at Wells Fargo. He became GM when Jennifer Temple joined Wells Fargo in 2012. Then in July, H+K US CEO Andy Weitz departed when the Americas region was consolidated under Canadian CEO Mike Coates. Baumann reports into Coates.