LONDON — B2B specialist agency Octopus Group has hired a new strategy director and made a raft of promotions to its senior management team.

Chris Ashley-Manns (pictured, top left) joins Octopus from B2B website personalisation platform Webeo, where he was chief marketing officer. He was previously a director of marketing agency Really B2B for 12 years.

Ashley-Manns replaces Tom Upfold, who has moved in-house to digital workflow platform ServiceNow as chief experience officer.

In his new role, Ashley-Manns is tasked with building out the agency’s strategy services, in particular in the fast-growing Account Based Marketing (ABM) segment. He reports to Octopus co-founder and chief strategy officer Billy-Hamilton-Stent.

At the same time, Toby Brown (pictured, bottom middle), a client director running Octopus’ fintech and sustainability teams, is promoted to head of PR and will oversee all aspects of the practice’s operations, with a focus on innovation.

Natasha Szczerb (top right), also a client director, is being promoted to head of client strategy, and Kirstie Orpen (bottom right) is promoted to client director and will run a number of marketing services teams. Board director and performance marketing director Nicola Pestell (bottom left) takes on the new role of growth director, focusing on high-growth specialist services such as media, digital build and martech, and overseeing Octopus’ management mentoring programme.

Finally, client director Lisa Barber (top middle) becomes head of client operations and will oversee an update of Octopus’ client processes and systems to improve efficiency, including the implementation of a new agency management system.

The moves follow Octopus Group’s acquisition by Publicis in February last year. Octopus managing director Pete Hendrick said the agency had increased revenue by 30% in 2021, fuelled by account wins across the technology, energy, financial services and industrial B2B sectors, and was re-structuring the senior team in order to support further growth in 2022.

He said: “2021 was a great year, fuelled in part by Octopus joining Publicis Groupe to supercharge its B2B offering. We grew significantly and we have an excellent senior management team, but it became clear during our 2022 planning that in order to continue to evolve as an agency, we needed to realign our management to directly support our strategic growth drivers. We regularly review our succession plan and love to see people progressing through the ranks, so this is an exciting time for us.”