September 23, 2021 – Strategic advisory firm MediaLink, an Ascential company, has named firm veteran Karl Spangenberg as its new executive vice president of executive search in the U.S. along with two executive search directors in the U.K. Mr. Spangenberg had been EVP for the firm’s client service and growth practice. The move follows a series of new hires for MediaLink in the U.K., including Gavin Presman and Tania Harwood as executive search directors. The firm’s executive search and talent development practice has tripled its headcount since a year ago, when Kathleen Saxton, managing director, EMEA advisory and global search joined MediaLink from The Lighthouse, a firm she founded, to lead both the firm’s global practice and operations in Europe.
Under Ms. Saxton’s leadership, the executive search and talent development practice has seen a marked acceleration in the need for hybrid leadership talent, especially within the E-commerce, performance, and digital creative arenas. Additional demand for talent advisory work has mainly come in the form of organizational design and future workplace strategic guidance as the world prepares for post-lockdown reintegration. Over the last 12 months, the practice has been behind some of the most high-profile CEO, CMO and other senior level searches across multiple holding companies, brands, media companies and major technology platforms.
“The post-pandemic world requires an entirely new caliber of leadership – one that will demonstrate a deep understanding of the human condition, insight into the different behaviors that will develop in the new era, and the hybrid craft skills required to navigate forward,” said Ms. Saxton.
“We’ve spent the past year identifying those leadership behaviors, and then applying a psychology-based approach to advise, grow and shape organizations with visionary ideas. The demand for this type of advisory work has skyrocketed at a time when such talent is increasingly difficult to uncover,” she said. Further building out a team that can reach them has been mission critical for the firm as it plots a growth and expansion plan into 2022.
“Karl brings an unparalleled industry knowledge to his role and coupled with Gavin and Tania’s deep experience in the U.K. media, tech and advertising space, our ability to tap into the most sophisticated C-suite network possible for our clients has never been greater,” she added.
In his 14 years at MediaLink, Mr. Spangenberg has managed strategic engagements for Fortune 50 companies and early-stage clients that have required talent recruitment, organizational design, and organic and non-organic revenue growth. Prior to joining the firm, he was the founding sales leader for AT&T digital, connected TV and mobile ad sales offerings. He has also been responsible for market expansion at The Atlantic, US News, Time and BusinessWeek magazines. He also provided executive support for the IPOs for InfoSeek and @plan as well as for the sale of The Hotel Networks to Liberty Media.
Mr. Presman is a best-selling author on sales and negotiation and has designed and developed sales and leadership programs for many of the world’s leading media and tech businesses. He has worked for some of the U.K.’s brightest media stars including Bauer and Global Radio.
Ms. Harwood has over 25 years of experience in the media industry in both agencies and commercial sales, hailing from The Guardian where she led a multi-disciplined sales team, grew revenue and established 300-plus client and agency relationships. She also spent 20 years in independent and full-service media agencies across the IPG, Omnicom and WPP groups.
A New Practice
Earlier this year, MediaLink appointed Lucas Cridland as managing director of its newly-launched practice, Hudson Bridge. Mr. Cridland is responsible for leading the practice supporting MediaLink and Ascential companies by providing its clients advisory on technology-driven transformation. The practice includes expertise on agency enterprise systems and their implementation, transition and integration, as well as optimizing processes to accelerate companies’ operational speed, efficiency and efficacy.
Hudson Bridge and Mr. Cridland provide immediate focus on the implementation excellence of Hudson MX, an advertising technology business. Hudson MX provides media buying and media accounting solutions globally through a cloud-based SaaS platform, partnering with its agency clients to catalyze marketing transformation efforts.
Mr. Cridland most recently served as chief operating officer, media U.S. Dentsu where he was responsible for the operational infrastructure, technology platforms and working processes across the holding company’s media businesses. Before that, he held other leadership positions within Dentsu and earlier in his career at Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Groupe.
The launch of MediaLink’s Hudson Bridge practice and Mr. Cridland’s appointment followed a year of significant growth including expansion of Hudson MX’s capability to span all online and traditional media types, a rapid increase in clients onboarding to the platform, and most recently series D financing of nearly $65 million led by Ascential, according to Hunt Scanlon Ventures in Greenwich, Conn.
MediaLink is a media and marketing industry strategic advisory firm, specializing in identifying areas of opportunity, optimization and ultimately growth for its clients. The firm provides counsel for navigating change in the core areas of marketing transformation, data and technology solutions, growth strategy, private equity advisory, and executive search and talent development. Founded in 2003 by Michael E. Kassan, MediaLink employs 125 professionals in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and London.
Ascential delivers specialist information, analytics and ecommerce optimization platforms to the world’s leading consumer brands and their ecosystems. Its world-class businesses deliver immediately actionable information combined with visionary longer-term thinking across digital commerce, product design and marketing. The company also serve customers across retail and financial Services. With more than 2,000 employees across five continents, Ascential combines local expertise with a global footprint for clients in over 120 countries. Ascential is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media