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It takes vision to lead a company that works
on the edge of what’s possible. By encouraging constant innovation, strategic thinking, and community responsibility, these people lead
VML to success.
CEO & President
Chief Innovation Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Engagement Officer
Executive Director, Insights
Executive Director, Technology
Chief Information Officer
Partner, Director of Innovation Strategy
Executive Director, Technology
Founding Partner, Chief Vision Officer
Executive Director, Client Services
Chief Creative Officer
Managing Director, Human Resources
Chief Marketing Officer
Executive Director, Strategic Planning
Executive Director, Channel Activation
Chief Integration Officer
Jon, VML CEO and President, has been with the agency for more than 16 years. During that time, VML has grown from 30 employees in Kansas City, Mo., to more than 1,200 around the globe. Previously, Jon served as VML President since 2007.
During his tenure, Jon has been one of the driving forces behind VML’s expanded digital and mobile capabilities, and he was an integral part of a leadership team that transformed the agency into a global digital powerhouse.
In his executive leadership role, Jon draws upon years of account experience working with VML client partners such as American Century Investments, Gatorade, Kellogg’s, Microsoft, Colgate-Palmolive, U.S. Bank, Ford, SAP, Southwest Airlines, Vanguard and others.
Jon is a member of the leadership board of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, a member of various WPP digital strategy groups and a board member of the Advertising Club of Kansas City Foundation. He was a finalist in the Ernst & Young 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year® award program.
One of the company’s strongest advocates of the VML Foundation, Jon leads by example by volunteering in the communities where VML operates and contributing to a wide range of pro bono projects. Jon is an active member of the VML Foundation advisory committee.
Jon graduated from the University of Missouri in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism, and he supported the Missouri School of Journalism 2008 centennial program in several leadership capacities.
He spends his free time with his wife and their three daughters.
Follow Jon on twitter @JonCookVML.
Matt joined VML as the fourth partner in early 1995, serving as Managing Partner. The partnership elected Matt as its first CEO in 1999. He held the Chief Executive position for 12 years until personally appointing his longtime colleague Jon Cook as CEO in February 2011.
Matt became Chairman Emeritus in 2013 after serving as Global Chairman since 2011. He has had immeasurable impact on VML’s steady expansion, leading the company from one client and 10 employees in the mid-1990s to now more than 1200 employees serving industry-leading client partners around the globe.
With a deep background in traditional advertising as well as experience in promotions and media relations, Matt guided VML to explore the new world of interactive and digital marketing opportunities. Together with his leadership team, he led successful client partnerships with Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, Microsoft, Tom’s of Maine, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Sprint and many more.
In 2001 as CEO, Matt led VML’s decision to join WPP, the world’s largest collection of communication companies. The result has been unprecedented expansion for VML. Matt holds various leadership roles within WPP and its strategic planning groups; he is a board member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. In 2010, Matt was named Advertising Professional of the Year by the American Advertising Federation of Kansas City.
Throughout his career, Matt has been a tireless supporter of philanthropic endeavors. In memory of his brother Chris, who suffered from a glioblastoma brain tumor and died in 2003 at age 37, Matt and his family established the Head for the Cure Foundation to raise awareness and funding for brain cancer research.
Matt holds numerous philanthropic volunteer board positions, including with the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, Council on Foreign Relations, Head for the Cure Foundation, Turning Point and VML Foundation.
A native Nebraskan, Matt played intercollegiate soccer at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in marketing and communications.
Away from the office, Matt spends time with his wife and their three children.
Eric directs the imaginative output for VML around the world. As the agency’s Chief Innovation Officer, he is focused on making VML one of the world’s most inventive digital marketing networks available.
Eric joined VML in 1994, and designed and implemented many top companies’ first-ever online presence. Additionally, for more than 15 years, he has helped guide the evolution of many brands to the online space. Eric’s past clients include Diageo, Ernst & Young, WPP and T-Mobile, where he led creative strategy and development.
Eric continues to deliver global innovation for some of the world's most distinguished brands. He currently serves as the Global Creative Lead for Team Microsoft, which consists of five companies and more than 300 Creative team members in 50 countries.
His works has won numerous awards from W3 to the International Academy of Visual Arts, ADDYs, CA, Print, Webbys and more.
Eric continues to stretch the boundaries of digital engagement, design, innovation and communication technology in the business-to-business and consumer space, as well as application development, mobile and social marketing. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and workshops around the world.
Jim joined VML’s executive management team in 2007 as the agency’s Chief Financial Officer. Over this short period of time, he has seen the agency double in size. Jim is responsible for managing the finance and accounting functions of VML, including financial reporting, contract negotiation, billing, collection, payroll and budgeting as well as supporting the organization’s financial analysis and reporting needs. He also manages the financial reporting relationships with VML’s parent company WPP and with the company's subsidiaries, Studiocom and VML London.
Jim is a Certified Public Accountant whose career spans more than 25 years. Most recently he served as Vice President of Finance and CFO for Saia, Inc., one of the most successful regional shipping firms in the United States. His financial experience also includes work for YRC Worldwide, where he managed corporate budget and financial reporting and consolidation processes as Director of Corporate Accounting, and Arthur Andersen, where he led audits, financial consulting and other engagements for clients in diverse industries.
Jim is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy.
When Jim is not “crunching numbers,” he enjoys spending time with his family, following his son’s sports teams and playing an occasional round of golf.
As Chief Operating Officer for VML, Craig Braasch leads planning, channel activation, project management, human resources and facilities. In this role, Craig is responsible for ensuring VML is prepared to meet the growing needs of both clients and employees. A primary focus is managing company growth through cross-discipline integration, planning and organizational strategy. Craig is also actively involved in managing a variety of VML’s relationships with WPP partner companies.
Before joining the company in 2004 as Director of Client Service, Craig spent two years at Burger King in Miami as Vice President, Global Advertising and Youth Marketing. At Burger King he managed a budget of more than $300 million, including digital activity supported by VML. Before Burger King, Craig was Managing Director of Worldwide Advertising and Sponsorships at Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis. During his 10 years at Northwest, Craig relied on VML to develop many local marketing and national retail efforts.
Craig started his marketing career in Los Angeles and spent six years in account management, primarily at J. Walter Thompson.
Outside of VML, Craig enjoys spending time with his family, including serving as a roadie for his son’s band, attending his children’s sporting events and boating activities.
As VML’s Chief Engagement Officer, Eric provides unmatched executive leadership to key client engagements and supports the proper deployment of VML capabilities on global business. Since joining VML in 1999, Eric has focused on the continuous improvement of VML’s solutions delivery and digital strategy road-mapping capability. This practice helps VML clients realize their multi-year, digital strategic vision, including aligned channel priorities enabled by the appropriate technology and organizational structure.
Eric has held lead engagement and strategic leadership roles with clients such as American Century Investments, Avid Technology, COPIA Interactive, Duke Energy, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, SCI Corporation and Waste Management.
He is a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute and possesses advanced skills in implementation planning, earned value and risk management.
He is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in graphic arts technology management.
In his free time, Eric enjoys spending time with his family. He is also an avid baseball fan, attending as many Kansas City Royals games as possible.
Gard leads VML’s Insights group, which includes the Digital Insights, Research and Optimization & Analytics teams. It is one of the fastest-growing and vital practice groups at the agency. He joined VML in 2004.
Passionate about the newest technologies and digital delivery channels, Gard has helped establish VML as a leader in social network marketing.
He and his team direct SEER™, VML’s proprietary brand management tool — the most advanced online insights and activation resource available today. SEER produces detailed brand and product ecosystems, identifying consumer-generated content and pinpointing web-based influencers, enabling client partners to immediately implement proactive strategies and tactics.
Gard has worked with several food and beverage and travel brands, including Anheuser-Busch, Carlson, Gatorade, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Kellogg and Southwest Airlines.
Before joining VML, Gard founded two companies: Tribal DNA, a strategic consulting firm, and Propaganda3, an interactive production and consulting agency.
Gard’s previous marketing experience includes serving as the Director of Client Service for Blairlake New Media and the Vice President of Account Planning and Research at Valentine Radford.
Gard is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in English. He has spoken at several national conventions and conferences and has had articles published in numerous print and online publications.
Outside of VML, Gard spends his free time with family and is an avid fan of his son’s baseball team.
Kris provides executive oversight and strategy for VML’s global Technology operations. His team of more than 250 IT professionals excels at delivering creative technology solutions. By applying proven technologies and standards while proactively researching new and emerging technologies, VML helps clients achieve their technology and marketing goals. Kris specializes in working with clients to develop a deep understanding of their needs while applying VML know-how and previous project experience to develop sound technical solutions.
Kris has over 10 years of experience in managing software development on large, complex integration projects and online applications. He has successfully led some of VML’s most complex and prominent projects for clients such as Gatorade, Duke Energy, adidas, Sprint, Pioneer, Avid, Microsoft and Colgate-Palmolive. He started at VML as a Business Systems Analyst before transitioning to a Technical Engagement Lead responsible for managing complicated technology projects. He then was named Group Technical Director, responsible for the overall delivery and success of some of VML’s biggest clients. In each of these roles he worked with the internal team and clients to ensure that VML’s technical strategy was sound and aligned with client needs and standards and that the projects were delivered on time and on budget.
Before joining VML in June 2002, Kris served as a Business Intelligence Consultant for IBM Global Services. He graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.
In his free time, Kris chases around his two young children and is a long-suffering Kansas City Royals baseball fan.
Todd is responsible for all technical direction and architecture decisions for VML. Since he joined the company in 2002, Todd’s priority has been to advance VML’s technical capabilities beyond strategic initiatives to provide improved technical products and services for VML clients. His 15-year tenure in multiple industries has afforded opportunities and insight to the manufacturing, airline and technology sectors.
Before being named Chief Information Officer, Todd spent two years leading the implementation of an enterprise web portal strategy for one of VML’s largest clients. He previously worked at eSecurityOnline, Ernst & Young LLP, where he was the Director of Application Development & Data Services. He managed all software engineering, quality assurance and data management initiatives.
Todd graduated from the College of the Ozarks in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in business.
He spends his free time with his wife and two children.
Mike joined VML in May 2005. With 25 years of high-tech management, marketing and product development experience, he has provided insights, strategy and thought leadership on emerging trends, disruptive technologies and innovation for clients as varied as Microsoft, Dell, Ford, Vanguard and Colgate-Palmolive.
Mike is also the author and lead instructor of the comprehensive Digital Acceleration training curriculum commissioned by WPP for the executive leadership of its network of more than 300 operating companies. Digital Acceleration is a marketer’s Web 2.0 survival guide, providing an immersive hands-on understanding of digital marketing, social media and the shifting channels of brand engagement.
Before joining VML, Mike worked for GE, Apple and Iomega, and he has served as an independent consultant for entertainment and technology companies and multiplatinum recording artists.
While at Iomega, he served as the General Manager of the company’s award-winning Mobile Storage Division. During his nearly nine years with Apple, Mike held various marketing positions, including Worldwide Director of Market Development for the Newton Solutions Group.
Since 2009 Mike has been active in the TED community and is the founding curator of TEDxKC, one of the largest independent TED events in the world. Mike is also a patent holder in the area of e-commerce and digital rights management. He graduated from Missouri State University.
Mark provides executive oversight and strategy for VML’s North American technology operations. His team of more than 250 IT professionals excels at delivering creative technology solutions. By applying proven technologies and standards while proactively researching new and emerging technologies, VML helps clients achieve their marketing goals. Mark specializes in working with clients to develop a deep understanding of their needs while applying VML know-how and previous project experience to develop sound technical solutions.
Mark joined VML in August 2004 as a Lead Business Systems Analyst. Two years later he was named a Technical Engagement Lead and began working on some of VML’s biggest technical client engagements. In 2008 Mark was promoted to Group Technical Director, leading all client-related technology services for over a dozen clients. In this role Mark directed a team of 40 Technical Directors, Business Analysts, Application Architects and Developers, and QA Testers. In 2011 Mark was named Managing Director of Technology and in 2012 was named Executive Director of Technology and now leads all aspects of technology services at VML.
Mark’s special assignments have included managing VML’s first Microsoft Gold Certification project in 2005 and again in 2008. Additionally, Mark initiated and guides VML’s various Centers of Excellence. Mark serves as executive sponsor for many client engagements and enjoys getting “into the weeds” on as many projects as possible. He also serves on the board of directors of the Digital Sandbox KC project.
Before joining VML, Mark worked as a software engineer at Cerner, a leading provider of medical software solutions and devices. Mark also worked at H&R Block, the leading tax preparation company in the U.S. as an application developer, and at UMB as a tax accountant. Mark graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business management.
In his free time he is the manager of his oldest daughter's competitive soccer team and spends as much time in the outdoors as possible camping, hunting and fishing.
Scott is one of the founders of VML — the "M" of VML — and currently serves as the agency’s Chief Vision Officer. VML is the second agency he has grown, having helped take another Kansas City agency, Valentine Radford, from $14 million a year in revenue to $150 million as Executive Creative Director.
Scott still considers himself a copywriter by trade, and his work has been recognized in competitions across the U.S. and internationally.
A self-proclaimed “geek” and technology junkie, he moved VML into the interactive arena at a very early date. He guided the “holistic communications” philosophy that has put VML at the forefront of the industry.
He combines his technology insight with his 35-plus years of experience in the creative processes of advertising, marketing and sales promotion. The result is the expertise and knowledge necessary to understand and grow a business in today’s connected economy.
Scott will tell you that his proudest achievement is shaping the culture that has been the key to VML’s rapid success. He refers to it as a “common-sense culture,” based on a set of core values that are as much a way of living as they are a way of working. Horizontal management and an entrepreneurial environment were at the heart of VML culture long before they were industry buzzwords — and they are why VML has twice been named among the 25 best companies to work for in America by the Great Place to Work Institute.
He is an active community leader, currently serving on numerous boards as well as holding national and local roles with JDRF, the organization working for a cure to type 1 diabetes. Scott was the Kansas City Ad Club’s Advertising Professional of the Year in 2004 and JDRF International Volunteer of the Year in 2008.
He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in business administration.
Still a techno-junkie, Scott spends a shameful amount of time playing with new gadgets. That is, when he’s not out riding his motorcycle, which he considers a big gadget that goes “vrooom.”
As the Executive Director of Client Services, Chuck is responsible for driving collaboration, innovation and a partner-focused approach across the Account Management team. He’s an energetic and dedicated marketer with a proven ability to integrate strategic leadership and a solutions-oriented technique throughout all aspects of VML clients’ businesses. His dedication to operational excellence, team growth and client satisfaction sets the tone for over 100 account management professionals.
Since Chuck joined VML in October 2000, his leadership has driven key portfolio digital initiatives for clients including Gatorade, Wendy's, Southwest Airlines, Burger King, Western Union, Hostess Brands, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, H&R Block, Intuit, Schering-Plough, Simon Malls and AMC Theatres.
Chuck has led both online and offline engagements for brands pushing cross-channel strategies across the marketing ecosystem. He values a consumer-centric approach to digital participation and strives to keep the brand and target audience at the core of all advertising initiatives.
His experience allows him to integrate expertise across many digital areas of focus, including content integration, site development, social media, display and search marketing, emerging technology, mobile and analytics. His traditional advertising background provides relevant perspective to formalizing cross-agency and integrated client engagements.
Chuck graduated from Rockhurst University with a degree in marketing and a minor in communications. He received his MBA from Rockhurst with a focus in international marketing and management.
When he’s not in the office, Chuck enjoys time with his wife and two daughters. He’s also an avid golfer and has an obsession with all things from his native Colorado — especially the Denver Broncos.
With more than 20 years of advertising and digital experience, Debbi has earned a reputation for exceptional, on-strategy creative solutions that drive business for clients and connect with consumers through integrated channels. Since joining VML in 2000, she has led creative engagements for brands such as Carlson Hotels, Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Gatorade, Kellogg’s, Revlon, Southwest Airlines, U.S. Bank, Wendy’s and Xerox.
Her creative leadership has enabled VML to become one of the top global digital agencies today with more than 18 offices and 1,300 employees worldwide.
She has served on several international award juries, including for Art Directors Club and New York Festivals. VML’s creative teams have garnered accolades from top international shows, including Cannes Lions, London International Awards, CLIO, Webby Awards, One Show, OMMA and Effie Awards, among others.
VML’s recent achievements include being named a Standout Shop by Advertising Age in 2012 and awarded with seven Lions at Cannes in the same year.
Debbi is a strong supporter of initiatives advancing women in creative leadership and mentoring talent to help women develop the interpersonal skills it takes to succeed in today’s industry.
As Director of Human Resources at VML, Kristi brings a passion for workplace excellence and employee satisfaction. Since 1996, Kristi has helped grow the company from 25 to more than 400 employees while maintaining the culture and environment that VML is known for.
Kristi manages all aspects of human resources and organizational development, including recruiting, personnel development, orientation, training, intern management, benefits administration, processes and procedures development, and also oversees VML's internal operations team. During her tenure, VML has twice been recognized as one of the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work for in America by The Great Places to Work Institute and the Society for Human Resources Management.
Kristi holds a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in Journalism and Mass Communications from Kansas State University.
In her free time, Kristi enjoys chauffeuring her kids to their activities, running, cycling and competing in duathlons. She also serves as on-air talent for KCPT-TV 19, Kansas City Public Television. She maintains her K-State ties as a member of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Council. Additionally, Kristi sits on the board of Legacy Foundation for the Arts, Inc. and currently serves as the non profit’s vice president.
Beth is responsible for facilitating the growth of the VML brand and marketing strategy across the VML global network. She has been an integral part of the expansion of VML and is responsible for the ongoing evolution of the network. As part of the Executive Leadership team, she drives consistency in brand strategy, thought leadership, capabilities and culture around the world.
Beth has been with VML for more than 10 years. Previously, as Chief Client Officer, she worked on agency service alongside each department lead, driving evolution and company growth and achieving impressive results for VML’s clients.
Before joining VML, Beth worked for Wunderman in New York City and served on the client side for many years, including in Sprint’s marketing and retail divisions and Applebee’s marketing department, handling regional advertising and promotions.
Beth is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. She spends her free time with her husband and her daughter, who is an aspiring artist.
As the Executive Director of Strategic Planning, Amy’s role combines torch bearing on behalf of the consumer with management consulting and counseling to client brand teams. Amy leads a team of seasoned and up-and-coming marketers who work across key areas of planning needs.
Amy joined VML in 1999 and is truly a veteran of digital marketing and enterprise website development, having worked in the space since 1995. She got her start in book publishing, working for Seth Godin Productions, and segued into the dot-com world of web content and the first generation of corporate and community websites at Wolff New Media/YPN.com, New York Now and Snap.com.
Amy’s experience includes developing digital marketing programs for audiences as varied as health-conscious women, deal-seeking moms, consumer audiophiles, baby boomers transitioning to retirement and business-to-business technology influencers and decision makers. In addition to advocating for the consumer, Amy leverages her extensive digital marketing experience to help client and agency teams bridge gaps between strategy and execution that can serve as barriers for a brand to truly deliver on behalf of consumers. Her colleagues like to say that she’s a whiteboarder at heart.
Amy is a graduate of Cornell College with a Bachelor of Special Studies in writing and American studies.
In her spare time, she practices her business case development expertise while slowly renovating a 100-year-old house with her husband.
As Executive Director of Channel Activation, Brian leads this integrated VML team to leverage VML capability and expertise across media, social, search, mobile and emerging media. This team is designed to bring clarity from digital chaos and understand a client’s best opportunities across a brand’s digital ecosystem to engage for impact — and continue to measure, build and optimize the client’s brand and business.
Brian joined VML in 1999 and helped lead one of the first major online media campaigns. His portfolio of past and present client partners includes BP/Castrol, Dell, Ernst & Young, Gatorade, H&R Block, Hallmark, HSBC, Intuit, Revlon, Southwest Airlines, State Farm Insurance, Warner Bros. and Western Union.
Brian has a passion for planning and strategy. He loves the pursuit of the big idea, and he finds it ironic that the faster technology moves, the less time people think they have.
Brian is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Away from the office, he spends most of his time with his wife and children . Occasionally Brian scares fish and fishermen alike with his rudimentary fly-fishing skills.
Mike is responsible for integration of key disciplines and executive oversight of some of VML’s largest clients, including Dell, Charter, Ernst & Young, Campbell's, U.S. Bank and Hill's Pet Nutrition. In addition, he is involved in VML’s expanding global offering with offices and clients throughout the world.
Mike leverages his more than 17 years of digital experience at VML to ensure clients receive superior digital strategy and execution across all communication channels, technology and creative solutions. His unyielding passion for combining marketing and technology to solve client needs and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace has been a major contributor to VML's success. Before joining VML, Mike was involved in various aspects of high technology marketing and sales since 1981.
Mike brings an unyielding passion to his clients, guiding their success and growth in the digital channel by blending marketing and technology to deliver innovative, difference-making programs. His knowledge of the digital space and ability to provide actionable plans that fully utilize integrated marketing have helped lead the way in providing clients with forward-thinking solutions. Under Mike's leadership, teams have won a number of advertising, digital marketing and industry awards.
Mike is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Kansas City with a degree in business studies.
In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with his family, serving in the community and reading a good book.