Anthem announces leadership transition

31 March 2020

Anthem, one of New Zealand’s leading communications and marketing agencies, has today announced its co-founders will assume new roles - Jane Sweeney to executive chair and Carolyn Kerr to managing director.

The duo has worked together for 15 years, six of them as business partners. The change in leadership roles was a succession plan put in place when they founded Anthem in 2014. Jane now passes the managing director mantle to Carolyn, who steps out of her general manager role.

Jane will utilise her extensive industry experience to provide strategic thinking for clients and governance oversight to the agency. Never one to slow down, Jane will seek to continuously innovate the Anthem offer, coach senior staff and develop new business.

As managing director, Carolyn will continue to lead the agency’s agile, talented team to deliver cutting-edge, strategic and innovative communications to achieve critical business outcomes for Anthem’s diverse range of clients.

“Anthem was originally set up to address a gap in the market, between traditional agencies and strategic consultancies,” says Sweeney. “Our research told us clients were looking for nimble, agile agencies who could provide sound strategic thinking resulting in great integrated work, at pace and for a competitive price. We push ourselves to continuously adapt and innovate the business and our offering in line with the needs of our clients and the wider business community.”

“It is a dream come true for both of us that we have been able to plan succession like this and ensure Anthem continues to go from strength to strength. We decided to proceed despite the pandemic to bring real focus to strategic co-leadership of the business.”

Anthem attracts some of the best professionals in their field who devise and deliver advisory and agency services, from corporate and reputation-defining strategies and stakeholder and government relations to creative campaigns and clever consumer marketing initiatives. Anthem is a proud partner to Auckland Airport, Contact, Cure Kids, Fronde, Fullers360, IAG, NZ Story, Steel Construction NZ and Z Energy.

“Jane and I are extremely proud to have grown our independent agency into an agile workforce made up of around 50 members, who work in small, cross-functional teams, at speed. We have a focus on appointing the right people working on the right projects, aligned with our client’s strategic goals and priorities, to achieve the best outcomes for them,” says Kerr.

Last year Anthem invested in researching business and industry leaders, from Board chairs and CEOs to CMOs and corporate communication leaders, to gather insights into what the ‘agency of the future’ needs to look like to keep pace with the changing requirements of business.

Overall, the research confirmed high demand for a new breed of agency led by smart thinkers and well-connected, trusted advisors who offer nimble, bespoke, creative services and effective strategic partnerships. Several business leaders called for more results-orientated remuneration models. Culture continues to be a major definer of external reputation and understanding a company’s “social licence to operate” is exercising many Boards and management teams, now more than ever before.

“We took heart from what we heard and the advice we received. Anthem’s unique model reflects a desire from some of our business leaders for a more agile, strategic and creative style of agency and communications partner. As we face a global recession, more than ever agencies need to adapt to help clients achieve business goals and bring the best talent to the table,” says Sweeney.

A purpose-driven business that aims to help clients find their most powerful voice, Anthem has been proud to support its clients through a range of challenges and opportunities. Kerr adds, “a central philosophy we live by is to find joy in what we do every day and to lead with empathy. That’s what inspires our work, the talented people we choose to work with and gives us the drive to push forward with smart, relevant solutions, especially in today’s tough times.”