Knowledge Accelerator: Lisa Kimmel, General Manager, Edelman, world’s largest PR firm

Forging new innovation in a creative workplace

Lisa Kimmel, PEO member, chosen for her own track record of success and innovation, is the latest PEO member to be featured in the Knowledge Accelerator.  Her own story is remarkable:

How do you take a communications agency that’s already known for its creativity – and make it more creative? And, how do you turn a business not previously known for its attractiveness as an employer and then win honours as one of the best workplaces in Canada? Those were Lisa Kimmel’s challenges when she became Edelman Toronto general manager in 2009. Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm with 67 offices and more than 4,800 employees, had just 60 in Toronto. It also wasn’t the city’s largest PR office; it is today, with more than 130 staff members.

Lisa’s challenges to innovate were significant. As is often said about service businesses, the inventory goes down the elevator each night; when it returns it has to be productive, happy, creative, challenged and motivated. Her first focus was culture: it wasn’t unified, she wasn’t sure it even existed specifically in Toronto. The Edelman global network had been responsible for some of the world’s foremost communications innovations in its 60-year history and had been widely recognized for its workplace improvements, winning Global Agency of the Year in 2013.

To visit Edelman Toronto is to see these innovations in practice. It’s an office, but there aren’t offices—the open concept includes Lisa’s workspace, which is near newly hired employees. Individual practices, such as healthcare, consumer, corporate & public affairs and technology, are scattered, rather than tightly grouped as in most agencies. It is non-hierarchical. To one observer, it was liberating, recalling the closed-doors culture of most of the agency world.

Read her blogs and learn about her career path, thoughts on her industry and how PEO helped her innovate.

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