Wouter Glaser moves on after 9 years Glasnost
“I simply wasn’t needed anymore”
Glasnost’ founder is no longer commander in chief at Glasnost and Fitzgerald and is now chief growth officer at Ace.
Towards the end of the interview the realization sinks in: “This only started 9 years ago. Look at the client list! It all went by so fast.”
In 20212 Wouter Glaser founded PR Agency Glasnost. He came from Hyves which had quickly become overshadowed by Facebook. Glaser then worked for a while at Tom Tom but pretty quick made the decision to start his own business.
At the time he told Adformatie about his ambitions: “To grow Glasnost into a serious agency that tells brand stories for both national and international clients.” He succeeded. The agency now works for brands like Vodafone, Ben & Jerry’s and Storytel with a team of 35 people. Apart from that Glaser launched a second successful agency: Fitzgerald.
‘Henk made things work’
Exactly a year ago both Glasnost and Fitzgerald became part of the Born05Group, nowadays operating under the name Ace. At that time pulling out of Glasnost was not the plan, but it is what slowly happened overtime.
It turns out Glaser stopped his activities within Glasnost already 4 months ago. He handed over his responsibilities to Henk Boersen, Glasnost’s loyal secondant who worked 7 years next to Glaser and now takes on the role of managing director.
To indicate how they cooperate, Glaser tells about Boersen being a part of the pop band Lemonseven. “Did you know that in 2004 he won the Dutch pop award with them? A good band. Henk used to be their drummer which I think characterizes him: always in the background but very defining for the rhythm. That was also his role within Glasnost: Henk made things work and started to determine our rhythm more and more. In the last 3 years at Glasnost I already wasn’t working on projects anymore. Together with Henk I worked on the growth of our company instead of working with clients.”
You were the “Face of”, the singer of the band?
“Yes, correct. I am more of an extravert, like to be on the foreground. Nevertheless, I decided to take a step backwards and really stepped out of the spotlight for a while. I did not want to be in the way of Henk and his team. During my vacation they had a team event so I wasn’t there, but I was totally fine with that. I also removed myself from the WhatsApp group, which was a bit of an emotional thing. It felt as my last tie to the daily business of Glasnost. I am still at the office sometimes because I live close by, but I don’t interfere with the business anymore.”
So you moved on to Ace. Why?
“Because it takes me to a new phase of entrepreneurship. Everything is at a larger scale: Ace is ten times the size of Glasnost. The challenge that comes with my transfer as well. Besides that, we are in a building phase, which really fits my enterprising character. I think it is tremendously educational and challenging and I learn a lot from Hannes van Raaij, the general manager of Ace, and from CEO Rogier IJzermans. Two people with whom I work a lot.”
What does your new role comprise?
“Different things which all have people and culture in common. We have launched an accelerator program to supply entrepreneurs at different agencies with business strategy. We also did a lot to improve diversity and inclusivity in our agencies and want to increase the number of non-Western employees. We have developed a very special project for that, but I can’t give you any details yet.”
As ‘Chief Growth’ you’ll be supporting the growth of Ace companies. Do you have a model for that?
“No, and I don’t think there is one solution that fits all our agencies. At Ace we are a family of leading agencies, but they are all in a different growth phase. Take Glasnost for example: with 35 employees they are a few steps ahead of Fitzgerald that has been independent for a much shorter time. That agency resided in Utrecht and fares really well under the lead of Dorien Kuiken. In a short time, it has grown into an agency with 10 employees and beautiful clients and projects, like the Fitzgerald Initiative.”
“In October Fitzgerald will help exclusively invited ngo’s and startups by giving training sessions in communications and PR.”
It must be comforting to know that your successors will improve the agencies.
“It sure is. The transfer went faster than anticipated because of the way Dorien and Henk have taken on their new jobs and with the addition of new MT-members with a lot of qualities. I simply wasn’t needed anymore."