Mystic Aquarium revs up Boston-area marketing effort

Steve Coan
Steve CoanChris Morris for The Boston Globe

Steve Coan wants to remind you that the New England Aquarium isn’t the only aquarium in New England.

The chief executive of the Mystic Aquarium’s parent organization, Sea Research Foundation, says the Connecticut aquarium is ramping up its marketing efforts in the Boston area in 2020. Coan says the aquarium expects to spend about $200,000 this year in Greater Boston, out of a total marketing budget of $1.7 million. (That figure is roughly twice what Mystic spent last year on reaching potential Boston-area visitors.)

Why the focus on Boston? The answer is simple: demographics.

“The growth of metropolitan Boston has been dramatic over the last several years,” Coan says. “Our marketing efforts in the Greater Boston area have not kept pace with the opportunity.”


Coan expects to grow total attendance again this year, beyond the 800,000 or so people who visited in 2019. But the growth opportunities are limited in the core Connecticut and Rhode Island markets, Coan says, because the population isn’t growing there.

Most of the advertising in Boston will be digital, through Web and social media ads that can be targeted to specific ZIP codes. (Coan wants to particularly focus on Southeastern Massachusetts, where communities are 60 to 90 minutes away from Mystic.) He also expects to invest in some radio ads. And he’s stepping up appearances in the Boston area, sometimes with African penguins in tow, as he did last month when he showed up with two birds at his PR agent George Regan’s Christmas party.

Coan is already quite familiar with the area. He grew up in Newton Corner and received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Brandeis.

He worked for a number of years at the Jason Project, a science education nonprofit in Waltham that has since relocated to Virginia, before joining the Mystic Aquarium in 2002. Coan became its chief operating officer in 2004 and chief executive in 2007.


As one of Connecticut’s biggest tourist attractions, the Mystic Aquarium benefitted from that state’s broader marketing efforts. But state officials have scaled back, Coan says, making it more important for the aquarium to market itself aggressively, particularly in the Boston and New York metro markets.

Coan says the Mystic area has become more attractive as a destination, with several trendy hotels and restaurants opening recently.

What about that other aquarium, up in Boston? “We really view the New England Aquarium as a collaborator and a partner,” Coan says. “We’re really a different experience . . . not a better experience, we’re just different.”

Bullhorn names new chief people officer

There will be a new top HR executive holding the bullhorn for Bullhorn.

The Boston staffing software company said Monday that Kristin Machacek Leary has joined Bullhorn as its chief people officer, its top human resources manager.

She was most recently at Hitachi Vantara, an IT company in Santa Clara, Calif., and will move back to the Boston area from California for the Bullhorn job.

Leary, who will report directly to chief executive Art Papas, previously worked for cybersecurity company Forcepoint and Boston Scientific. She says she was attracted to Bullhorn’s culture, which she described as “all the energy of a startup even at twenty years in, but with the maturity and talent of a Fortune 500 (company).”

Leary will take over for Kim Castelda, who will remain with the company for a transition period. A Bullhorn spokesman says Castelda has decided to step down after six years with Bullhorn, helping grow the firm from 250 to 1,200 employees, including through seven acquisitions. The spokesman says Castelda is looking for “new opportunities that would allow her to take that experience to another company” that is planning a similar growth trajectory.


Cybersecurity insurer gets infusion of $32m

Moving to the startup world is paying off for Phil Edmundson.

Edmundson once ran one of New England’s biggest insurance brokerages but now leads Corvus, a cybersecurity insurance firm in Boston. Corvus just secured $32 million in a “Series B” round of financing from five venture capital firms. Edmundson says the funds will help Corvus triple its number of employees from 50 to 150 in 18 months. At that point, about 100 will be in Boston.

“The time is now to expand the business and grow the team significantly,” Edmundson says.

The lead investors in this round were Telstra Ventures and Obvious Ventures, both based in San Francisco. Boston-area investors include Bain Capital Ventures and .406 Ventures.

Corvus has emerged as one of the rising stars of Boston’s fintech scene. It uses software to predict and prevent cyber breaches for organizations of all sizes, and it goes head to head with insurance giants such as Chubb, AIG, and Travelers.

“Our technology is so good, we’re beating these huge brands,” Edmundson says.

Ex-energy official elevated at London firm

Brian Swett once played a key role in getting the city of Boston’s climate resiliency efforts off the ground, years before the issue became the hot topic it is today. Now, Swett is pursuing a similar mission in the private sector.


Swett was just promoted at Arup, the London engineering and design firm, to head its 100-person Boston office. He works at 60 State St., just around the corner from his old digs at City Hall, where he was the city’s top energy and environmental official until early 2015.

Swett then joined Arup to lead its “cities and sustainable real estate” business.

Arup has been working on a number of high-profile projects in the area, including the Green Line extension into Medford and the turnpike viaduct project in Allston. Swett says all of Arup’s projects have sustainable elements, even if climate resiliency isn’t always the core focus.

That’s part of the advantage of working for a company whose shares are held in a trust, on behalf of its employees.

“What it allows us to do is not think quarterly,” Swett says. “We think years out, and decades out. We think about what the world is going to look like in terms of the built-out environment, and what role we can play.”

Can’t keep a secret? Tell us. E-mail Bold Types at jon.chesto@globe.com.