Rachel Friend joins Harvard as Executive Chair – marking changes in leadership to drive next stage of growth for the award-winning tech agency
Technology marketing and PR agency, Harvard, part of VCCP Business, has today announced the appointment of Rachel Friend, previously CEO of Weber Shandwick and W Communications, in the newly-established role of Executive Chair. Friend will work closely with Lorna Hughes, MD of Harvard PR & AR, George Greenspan, MD of consumer sister agency Eat the Fox, and Andrew Last, MD of Harvard Marketing, to drive the business through its next stage of growth.
The move comes as current CEO, Ellie Thompson; Chairperson, Louie St Claire; and Group Strategy Director, Pete Marcus exit the business to set up their own consultancy, having worked at the agency for over a decade.
Friend will report into Jo Parker, Group CEO, VCCP Business, and Group COO of VCCP.
Parker said: “We thank Ellie, Louie and Pete for all they have done for Harvard, I have loved working with them and wish them all the very best for their new venture. Rachel joins at an exciting period for the business with the development of a global proposition with sister tech agencies Method and Sling & Stone - who together already share 14 clients - as well as continuing to build its integrated offer, with a real focus on creativity for clients.
“Rachel is a perfect fit, as she brings 25+ years of experience across integrated PR and marketing, global award-winning work including Cannes Lions Awards, PRWeek Global and UK Campaigns of the Year and EMEA SABRE Campaigns of the Year, as well as expertise in global leadership. We are delighted she is joining the team."
Friend will take on the role with immediate effect, initially working alongside Thompson in a handover period until the end of February.
“I’m hugely excited to be joining Harvard,” said Friend. “The agency is respected across the industry not only for its award-winning work, but also its culture and dedication to areas like Learning & Development and DE&I. My goal is to build on this impressive foundation, to help the agency take our client offering to the next level.”
With a focus on integrated work, excellence in client consultancy, best-in-class media relations, and a people-first approach, Harvard is consistently ranked amongst the top agencies in the UK. Industry awards won in recent years include being named PRovoke’s EMEA Tech Agency of the Year three times, PRCA UK’s Best Automotive campaign, B2B Marketing’s Best Use of Creative, The Drum’s B2B Marketing Agency of the Year and highly commended in PR Week’s Mid-sized Consultancy of the Year. In 2022, the agency reached over 100 people, launched an improved DE&I strategy to build on achieving Blueprint Ally status in 2021, and increased its global account roster alongside sister agencies Method (US) and Sling & Stone (APAC).
“I have a brilliant team around me – in the three MDs, the wider Board and SLT and equally importantly, the entire agency who deliver such impactful work,” added Friend. “I can’t wait to get started and be part of such an impressive agency.”