NEW YORK, December 17—Facing the serious cultural and employee communications challenges that inevitably ensue when two huge public relations agencies come together, Weber Shandwick Worldwide has moved to strengthen its human resources infrastructure, hiring former Hill & Knowlton HR chief Joyce Bloom as executive vice president of human resources and Merrill Lynch veteran Laura Mindek as chief learning officer. 


Bloom joined in October from Keyspan Energy, where she was senior vice president of human resources, and attended a post-merger meeting in Florida that brought the management team together for the first time. Says Bloom, “One of the reasons I was hired was that I have a lot of experience in mergers and acquisitions and post-merger integration. I worked at Revlon in 80s and handled human resources integration.”


She has also worked extensively in the advertising industry—for Ted Bates and Grey Advertising—and in PR.


The newly merged agency’s cultural challenges begin with the merger of Weber Shandwick and BSMG Worldwide, but Weber Shandwick had been formed just a few months earlier by the merger of Shandwick International and The Weber Group, and Shandwick itself was still—in the U.S. at least—a conglomeration of cultures, constructed from at least a dozen small and midsize agencies acquired over the course of a decade.


On top of that, the agencies that make up Weber Shandwick have shed as many as 1,000 jobs since the start of the year—although more than 3,000 remain.


Bloom is working to develop best practices in all aspects of human resources, drawing on the best programs at BSMG—including its Benjamin Group subsidiary, which has won recognition for its workplace programs—and Weber Shandwick. She says she will also draw on best practices in the communications sector and other industries.


Mindek, meanwhile, will focus on people performance, global leadership development and talent management. A former chief learning officer with Sony, J.M. Huber, and director of global leadership and organizational development at Merrill Lynch, she succeeds Bruce Benidt, who was chief learning officer at the old Shandwick before leaving to set up his own consultancy.

Says Bloom, “Her role is taking the strategy and optimizing the organization, making sure the right skills and behaviors are delivered throughout the company. She will help establish the culture, drive organizational development, performance management, our global leadership program, the development of high potential people, and our executive development programs.”