CHICAGO — Bryan Specht is parting ways with ICF Next after spending more than a decade leading Olson Engage before taking on groupwide leadership of growth and innovation at the newly consolidated ICF Next earlier this year.

Tricia Ewald, also a former Olson Engage leader, will continue leading ICF Next’s brand engagement group, largely consisting of the legacy Olson and Olson Engage teams Specht led through 2018, as she has since January. Specht's role, chief growth and innovation officer, will not be filled. He plans to step down in January.

“There is no better time for change than the turning of a new year, especially at the dawn of a new decade. After 12 years, three owners, six brands, piles of awards and amazing memories with many brilliant, quirky able challengers, the time has come for a change. I will be moving on from ICF Next at the beginning of 2020,” Specht wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Specht will be advising some emerging companies and exploring long-term ventures in 2020, he wrote. Specht’s departure marks the first major leadership change since the firm rolled out early this year when parent company ICF combined all its agencies, including PR shop Olson Engage, under the ICF Next brand.

Specht, who had been president of PR shop Olson Engage and ad agency Olson, was named the organization’s chief growth and innovation officer at that juncture. His responsibilities included leading business development, group marketing and communication strategies at the group level, and promoting  the ICF Next brand to consultants, analysts, potential clients and prospective talent.

“The transformation happening in our industry offers many opportunities for reinvention and innovation. I’m looking forward to new ways of helping influence that transformation," he added.  

ICF Next head John Armstrong said: “Over the last 12 years, Bryan has made a lasting and positive impact on our company, helping to both build our award-winning creative-engagement capabilities and to create and launch the ICF Next brand. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him only the best in the next phase of his career.”

As part of the ICF consolidation, ICF Next emerged as a 1,700-person agency, worth more than $300m across offices in the US, Canada, Europe and India. More than half its revenue comes from PR services, which jumped to $157.8m in 2018, up from $150m. (PR revenue reflects work done by legacy Olson/Olson Engage, ICF Mostra, PulsePoint Group and We Are Vista, minus any media-buying, production and unrelated digital platform work.)