123w promotes four as its founders look to the future

One Twenty Three West has made four promotions across its Vancouver and Toronto offices, a move that founder and CEO Scot Keith said is designed to ensure the agency retains key talent while simultaneously positioning it for the future.

“They’re all just really, really good, and we want to keep them in the company,” said Keith. “We want to be independent, and to be independent we need to get awesome people and make them part of the management/executive team and mentor them.

“Some day I’d like to hang the keys over to really great people.”

Jaime Nilsson, Natalie Wu, Caroline Howson and Bianca Myers (clockwise from top left in photo) have all been named vice-president, managing director, with each given a specific remit reflecting their particular skill set.

Based in Montreal but working with One Twenty Three West clients across Canada and the U.S., Wu has more than 20 years experience in advertising, including European stints at AMV BBDO London and CLM BBDO Paris. After returning to Canada, she worked at Cossette Vancouver and several agencies in Montreal before joining One Twenty Three West three years ago.

Howson has spent more than five years with One Twenty Three West in Vancouver as client service director on The Sleeman Group, Lululemon and Canadian Tire. She worked in London prior to moving to Vancouver 10 years ago, where she worked at Taxi Vancouver leading the Telus West account before joining One Twenty Three West.

Based in Victoria, Nilsson joined One Twenty Three West in 2020 after spending the previous two decades working in New York City, Boston and Vancouver, including senior roles at Omnicom’s OMD, IPG’s Octagon and Hill Holliday.

Myers joined the agency only in June from Kraft’s in-house social media agency The Kitchen, where she was named managing director late last year.  Based in Toronto, Myers has over 15 years experience in brand and advertising roles at John St., BBDO and lg2.

Keith said that succession planning is paramount for an independent, particularly as it has no plans to sell to one of the large global holding companies. “People in our business just get caught [with no succession plan in place] all the time,” he said. “[My stepping down] is a long ways away, but you’ve got to think years in advance. Our business is full of old dudes who can’t sell their agency.

“If you don’t intend to sell to a multinational, then you’ve got to grow your talent and then hand off the baton. I do not want, ever, to report to someone from London or New York.”

The appointments also reflect the agency’s commitment to ensuring diversity across its senior leadership team, he said. “One thing we’re quite excited about is that our management team is a lot more diverse. We were four guys who started the company… and we’re really committed to not making the same mistakes that I think our industry made for many years.”

Chris Powell