LaMarca served as executive assistant to iN DEMAND’s previous CEO before being promoted to chief of staff by Benya in 2009. He is the first person to have that title at the company.
“I think it’s very important that we do whatever we can to provide opportunities for our young, outstanding employees” said Benya. “ When you have a lot of young employees, you can experience a lot of turnover but providing unique opportunities is important to developing young people and mitigating turnover.
Burson-Marsteller has employed chiefs of staff since 2005, when Mark Penn took over as CEO. Like iN DEMAND, Burson looks to internal talent to fill this position.
“This role is a vital role for the company and for Mark, because he has so many different parts of the business to manage,” said Michele Chase, Burson’s global head of human resources.
“I think the need for senior executives is to have someone that’s thinking beyond, being proactive, able to see around corners and really has an interest in the business besides just doing administrative work for a person,” she added.
Burson already has a track record of promoting its chiefs of staffs to bigger and better positions after they serve their term. The company’s first chief of staff, for example, went on to become the vice president of marketing for one of Burson’s sister companies.
“Mark always positions it as, if you do a good job for me for two to three years as a chief of staff, the gateways are open to you,” Chase explained.
Burson’s current chief of staff, Andrew Stillman, is a 2006 Harvard graduate who worked in the company’s Seattle office for four years in a client-facing position before being tapped for the chief of staff role. He describes the job as an “intellectual assistant” to the CEO.
“The role really involves a little bit of everything,” explained Stillman. “It involves managing (Mark Penn’s) time and his priorities, really making sure he’s well-briefed on everything that he’s doing, looking forward enough to make sure that he’s prepared for everything that’s coming up in the coming weeks and months and making sure he doesn’t miss anything and uses his time as well as possible.”
Even though Stillman has only been in the position for a few months, he said the close exposure to a chief executive has been an incredible learning experience.
”I think there’s no better way to learn than by example,” added Stillman. “(I am) learning how strategic decisions are made, learning how to communicate with senior executives and just really learning what the thought processes are and how things happen.”