Andy Polanski, one of the longest-serving CEOs in the PR industry, is retiring in June after 38 years working with Weber Shandwick and its Interpublic Group of Cos agencies.
Polanski is credited with, among other things, Weber’s evolution from a traditional PR agency into a data-savvy creative force and guiding the agency through what IPG calls “an age of deep digital disruption and a growing global demand for innovative PR and strategic communications,” along with Gail Heimann CEO of Weber.
Polanski was appointed in 2019 as CEO of IPG Dxtra, a global group of holding company agencies including Golin, Octagon, FutureBrand and Jack Morton, but is best known for his long career at Weber, where he previously held the titles of President and CEO and currently holds the position chief executive officer.
“This news is the definition of bittersweet,” Heymann said. “I am excited about Andy and his next chapter, and of course many will miss him. And for my part. Our long-standing partnership has meant a lot of things to me both personally and professionally. Not just the tremendous talent, compassion and interest in craftsmanship. He has a unique ability to take people to the center of business and bring people together. Together around a common goal. He has made a huge impact on the communications profession, at Weber Shandwick – and for thousands along his path.”
“Many of our clients and the marketing services industry as a whole are better for Andy’s humanity, integrity, and vision,” said Philip Krakowski, CEO of IPG, who described Polanski as “one of the strongest voices in marketing and PR services.” He added, “The strong businesses and teams he has created are A testament to his direct and compassionate leadership approach.”
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In this interview, Polanski offers some insights into the changing nature of PR in Weber and within the industry and outlines plans for his next chapter. This conversation is lightly edited for length and clarity.
Why are you retiring now?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, perhaps a little bit put on hold due to the pandemic, as it has been important to continue to partner with our teams and our customers as we deal with all relevant issues over the past two years. But I feel our teams are in a really strong position like all of our brands across the portfolio. We did really well in 2021. So I feel like the time is right. I think we have very strong leadership across our brands, and we have a lot of depth around the world in our team. So after 38 years, I thought it was time to look forward to the next chapter.
What will the next chapter look like?
I get this question a lot. I definitely want to spend more time with my family, do a lot of traveling with my wife Maria, and travel the world in the coming years. But I have a lot of energy and I definitely want to apply my skill set to interesting board positions and nonprofits where my skill set can come in handy. I want to continue mentoring young professionals in the industry. Then I want to study a bit too. I want to play more pickle ball too.