Kelly Fredrickson started as president of MullenLowe’s Boston and New York offices on Friday the 13th, in April of last year. But her tenure at one of the city’s biggest ad agencies has been anything but unlucky.
In fact, MullenLowe has been on a tear. The Boston office claims a 100 percent “win rate” for pitches to new clients since December — six in all. The latest (and biggest) was Navy Federal Credit Union, considered the world’s largest credit union.
MullenLowe learned that it had landed the account on July 3, the day after the final round of pitches in Vienna, Va., where the credit union is based.
But the announcement wasn’t made until last week, to allow some time for a transition from the old agency of record, Atlanta-based Fitzco.
Like Fitzco, MullenLowe is owned by Interpublic Group, a.k.a. IPG. Fredrickson says she was glad that the win “kept the business in the family.” MullenLowe participated in the pitch with Mediahub, its media-purchasing affiliate.
This was the first financial services contract among MullenLowe’s new clients since Fredrickson joined. Fredrickson says she thinks her time at Bank of America — she was a top marketing executive at the bank for 10 years — paid off.
“I know that my Bank of America experience played a role in the confidence that they had in the agency,” Fredrickson says. “I don’t have an MBA, [but] it felt like 10 years at Bank of America gave me that education.”
Another big selling point in MullenLowe’s pitch: The agency sent staffers to visit a call center in Vienna and listen in on calls from customers — the credit union serves members of the military — to get more of a sense of the credit union’s relationship with them.
Other clients that have arrived since Fredrickson joined: the Watertown IT firm athenahealth; the Grey Goose vodka brand; and the German headphone company Sennheiser. (MullenLowe has not made public all of its recent wins.)
Fredrickson says the agency also had its strongest year for business growth among existing clients last year, including the expansion of its relationship with JetBlue. (MullenLowe now handles social media for JetBlue, alongside its ad-design and media-buying work.)
MullenLowe employs about 600 people in Boston, making it the agency’s largest office. The agency, called simply Mullen at the time, moved from Wenham to the Financial District about a decade ago.
But now it’s time to move again. The agency has roughly doubled in size over the past 10 years, and Fredrickson says it’s important to work in a space that encourages more collaboration.
MullenLowe favors a particular location in Boston but isn’t ready to announce the new lease.
Fredrickson says her responsibilities are split roughly three ways: business development, cultivating relationships with existing clients, and managing the Boston and New York teams and fostering their culture.
“My favorite part of the job is the energy that comes from digging into a problem and solving it,” she says. — JON CHESTO
A perfect job to help kids find their passion
To some extent, Karen O’Sullivan owes her college experience and her subsequent career to the game she learned as a kid, playing tennis on the Farragut Road courts in South Boston.
Now, O’Sullivan has the perfect job to help the next generation of city kids find their passions. She was hired last month to be executive director of the Boston Police Activities League, formerly known as the Boston Police Athletics League.
O’Sullivan first picked up a racket when she was 5, to keep up with her older siblings. That proved to be fortuitous: She ended up attending Duke University on a full scholarship.
Later, she developed a career as a fund-raiser, spending 12 years at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, including as vice president of business development.
She then worked as head of philanthropy for two years at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., before helping the US Tennis Association launch a charitable foundation in New England.
At the Boston Police Activities League, she leads a nonprofit with a roughly $500,000 annual budget. She’s the only full-time staffer right now.
The organization works with the Boston Police Department to host sports and other events for nearly 6,000 kids every year. She wants to increase the budget to $1 million next year.
Toward that end, the organization is hosting its first-ever gala, at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, on Oct. 16.
“We need to gain more visibility in the city for the great work that we’re doing,” O’Sullivan says. “There are a lot of philanthropic friends and corporate partners who would be willing to support our organization . . . if they knew more about us.” — JON CHESTO
Carbon Black is giving up its independence
Well, that didn’t last long.
Carbon Black became one of the few Boston-area tech companies to test the waters of the public markets in the past two years, with its IPO in May 2018.
Now, the Waltham cybersecurity firm will give up its independence as it’s swallowed up by VMware, the Palo Alto, Calif., software firm, in a deal valued at about $2 billion. VMware unveiled the deal last week, alongside a parallel acquisition of Pivotal, another software firm. (Both Pivotal and VMware have roots in EMC and remain affiliated with Dell Technologies, which acquired EMC in 2016.)
Carbon Black had been working with VMware as a corporate partner for about three years. Carbon Black chief executive Patrick Morley says VMware realizes that cybersecurity shouldn’t be treated as a “bolt on” product for corporate clients but should be woven into its core offerings. Carbon Black will play that role, overseeing VMware’s cybersecurity efforts.
Morley says Carbon Black has 5,600 customers around the world, and he expects that number to grow significantly under VMware’s ownership.
Morley met with employees on Friday to reassure them about their future. The company employs more than 1,100 people, roughly half in Massachusetts. (About 450 of those local employees work at the Waltham headquarters, 60 are at an office in Boston, and 40 work remotely.) The company is continuing to fill open positions at least until the deal closes, probably by early 2020. “What we’ve told employees is that there will be no changes in the current plan that we may have here in Massachusetts, or across the globe,” Morley says. — JON CHESTO
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