September 18, MOSCOW– Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K), international public relations agency, has appointed Maria Kuzkina, a 16-year veteran of the firm, as CEO of PBN H+K, effective October 1. Kuzkina is the third CEO in the company’s 36-year history, preceded by the firm’s co-founder and current Executive Chairman Peter B. Necarsulmer, and by Myron Wasylyk since 2014.
PBN H+K is the first in-market leading strategic communications firm doing business in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Since 1990, the firm has pioneered the public relations and government affairs professions in these countries and today employs 75 professionals in its Moscow, Kyiv and Almaty offices. Its merger with global public relations company H+K created PBN H+K in 2012.
Kuzkina has served as Managing Director for Russia since the merger, responsible for strategy and key client relations, financial performance and recruitment and retention of senior staff. She also leads the firm’s fast-growing expertise in integrated communications that combines strategy, creativity and innovation for clients such as IKEA, Facebook, Lexus, P&G, Megafon and Visa.
“Maria’s strategic know-how, operational excellence and deep experience make her the obvious choice to lead PBN H+K in its next stages of growth and development,” said Lars Erik Grønntun, H+K Global President. “She has the respect of the market, the confidence of our clients and the deep esteem of her colleagues, both globally and regionally. Her appointment as CEO ensures a smooth, seamless transition in the firm’s management from Myron Wasylyk excellent almost six-year tenure in that role.”
Wasylyk, who has worked at PBN H+K for 22 years, is departing the firm at the end of the month to pursue a new professional opportunity based in Kyiv with a client of the company. Wasylyk and the firm look forward to continuing their professional cooperation and personal relationship into the future.
“Maria is the right woman at the right time to take the leadership reigns of PBN H+K,” said Peter B. Necarsulmer, who founded the firm in 1983 and currently serves as Executive Chairman of the Board. “She possesses a unique combination of institutional knowledge as a 16-year company veteran and the discipline, drive and vision to continue PBN H+K’s pioneering, leadership position in the market.”
“It is an honor to be named only the third CEO in the company’s long history,” said Kuzkina. “I have three priorities as I assume this position. The first is to raise our already high bars for client satisfaction, creativity, execution and financial performance. The second is to maintain our reputation for integrity and ethical conduct in everything we do. Third, is making sure we deliver the resources, intellectual property and unmatched global knowledge of H+K for the benefit of our clients and employees.”
For the past seven years, Kuzkina has supervised day-to-day operations for the Moscow office of PBN H+K, the largest of the firm’s three offices. She manages and counsels some of the firm’s most complex and significant clients in Russia as well as coordinating project teams across all disciplines, including corporate comms, government relations, crisis comms and marketing comms. Kuzkinahas degrees in Philology and Psychology with Honors from the People’s Friendship University of Russia.