SBJ/March 18-24, 2013/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40

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Bryce Townsend is a details guy, and that has served him well.

“When I think about Bryce, I think of his level of detail and his mindset,” said John Kristick, global CEO, GroupM ESP. “He knows where he needs to get to and he has a very, very methodical approach to getting it done. And that doesn’t leave a lot to chance. A lot of people try to get to the finish line too fast, and he doesn’t take those chances — and that makes him extremely dependable when it comes to delivering results.”

Townsend was promoted to CEO, North America, of GroupM in July 2011, succeeding Greg Luckman, who left the company to launch the corporate consulting business at CAA Sports. Townsend had worked under Luckman, having joined GroupM in 2007 as a senior vice president. He subsequently was promoted to general manager and then executive vice president before being named CEO of the North America operation.

“When [Luckman] left, there is no doubt there were big shoes to fill,” Townsend said. “But we never had a better year than we had in 2012, from a revenue perspective, from a profit perspective, and a client-activities perspective. It’s all been good.”

GroupM counts SAP, Xerox, Volkswagen, Discover and Unilever among its roughly 32 brand clients. Townsend said GroupM takes its accountability to those brand clients seriously, but that accountability also extends to its property partners, its talent partners and its media partners. All parties need to work together to make a partnership successful, Townsend said.

Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN global customer marketing and sales, said, “I think that Bryce has a unique gift in understanding what his clients are looking for and what his media partners also are looking for. His ability to make that marriage work is where he excels.”

The Discover Orange Bowl is an example of Townsend working to make the partnership more valuable for both Discover and ESPN, Erhardt said. That work included activating the property with Discover and ESPN on-site, using ESPN talent to engage Discover through appearances.

Said Townsend, “That to me is the ultimate mark of a successful agency: When all sides of the equation look at you as central to having created the partnership, enabled it to succeed and able to move forward, driving innovation.”

— Liz Mullen



Age: 36
TITLE: CEO, North America
COMPANY: GroupM Entertainment & Sports Partnerships
EDUCATION: BBA, Goizueta Business School, Emory University
FAMILY: Wife, Daniela; children, Lucas (4) and Leo (6 months)
CAREER: Began at Momentum Worldwide in 1999, advancing from group assistant to vice president; GroupM ESP since 2007; in current role for almost 2 years

FIRST JOB: Mailroom at Ammirati Puris Lintas
HOW DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?: Identify little moments that I can make better for my family by me being there
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: “You can never personally want the deal.” (my dad); “You better know how to make what it is you want to sell.” (my father-in-law)
WORST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: “We’ll figure it out later.”
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: A real-life mashup. Mr. Suit but love my crisp #AF1’s. #C.R.E.A.M but mesmerized when it’s #In The Air Tonight. Thankful but always hungry.
STRESS RELEASE: Couch and original “Law & Order” episodes on DVR
PET PEEVE: People who don’t move and operate with purpose. And those people who can’t have the good sense to simply say “Thank you” when you hold the door open for them.
GUILTY PLEASURE: N.Y. Post home delivery
FANTASY JOB: Working a Knicks game with Marv & Walt “Clyde.”
FAVORITE MOVIE LINE: “The secret is, you’ve got to coordinate.” (“Boomerang”)

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