CHICAGO — Longtime Olson Engage head Bryan Specht will assume a groupwide leadership role early next year when parent company ICF combines its agencies under one brand, ICF Next.

Specht, currently president of PR shop Olson Engage and ad agency Olson, will be the new organization’s chief growth and innovation officer. In the new role, he will lead business development, group marketing and communication strategies at the group level, and also help promote the ICF Next brand to consultants, analysts, potential clients and prospective talent.

Specht will be part of a larger group leadership team that will be built over time. Tricia Ewald, who is currently Olson Engage’s EVP of account management, will assume Specht’s current responsibilities as head of ICF Next’s brand engagement businesses.

"Almost without exception, the businesses that are coming together all have a DNA and a heritage and a legacy of being challengers and change agencies. We have an opportunity as ICF Next to take that to the next level," Specht said.

John Armstrong, who will be leading the new entity, said he considers the promotions of Specht and Ewald’s promotions an investment in advancing ICF Next.  “As we help companies define and build brands we would do no less for ourselves,” Armstrong said.

He said the commitment he made to retaining individual agencies’ cultures and leadership still stands. There will be no agency consolidations or staff reductions, he said. "We haven’t changed our mind on that."

The move will result in a 1,700 person team, worth more than $300m, working across a dozen offices in the US, Canada, Europe and India. In addition to Olson Engage, ICF’s consultancies include Olson1to1, Olson Digital and PulsePoint Group, as well as Brussels-based ICF Mostra and two UK companies, The Future Customer and We Are Vista.

In announcing the new company earlier this month, Armstrong said the move is meant to drive the kind of collaboration increasingly necessary to meet clients’ demands — and needs — for more integrated communications strategy. Although ICF has promoted the idea of its businesses sharing capabilities, the practice has yet to permeate the entire organization.

Additionally, having all the companies under one brand gives ICF Next the full range of capabilities other big companies can offer, making them more attractive to clients, Armstrong said.