Kate Smither, Chief Strategy Integration Officer at Publicis Communications, and Ben Hourahine, Partner / Strategy Partner at AnalogFolk, have been appointed co-Chairs of The Communications Council’s Account Planning Group (APG). They take the reins from Angela Morris, Chief Strategy Officer at J.Walter Thompson, who held the role of Chair for three years.

Smither, an APG UK and Australia committee member, speaker and teacher, said: “It’s a real honour to be named Chair of the APG. The APG has an exciting commitment to the value of creative strategy to solve business problems and transform brands.”

Adding: “Creating a culture of thought provoking events, effectiveness, training and mentorship for planners in every discipline is a big challenge and I’m looking forward to working with Ben to guide it.”

Hourahine, long-time APG representative and Effies judge, commented: “It’s a big privilege to be stepping into the Chair role with Kate. We’ve known each for a long time and are really passionate about the role planning plays in creating inspiring work for brands.”

Adding: “Given the amount of activity the APG undertakes, working together on this is a no-brainer. We also feel it gives the APG great representation across the network and independent agency spectrum. We are really excited to get started.”

The incoming co-chairs thanked Morris for her significant and ongoing contribution to planning and the industry as a whole.

“She has done a fantastic job as Chair and we can’t wait to take that forward into the future,” Hourahine said.

Angela MorrisUnder Morris’ leadership, the APG has played a key role in elevating the Australian Effies to become one of the most highly regarded awards shows in the region. She helped relaunch ‘Battle of Big Thinking’ as a regular sell-out event at Vivid, brought IPA courses to Australia to modernise planning training, and staged multiple Idea Exchange events to help inspire the next generation of strategic industry leaders.

Morris said: “It has been a joy to steer the APG committee during such an exciting time in our industry, and it’s been great to work with a group of such committed, innovative and passionate individuals. I am very proud of the Committee’s achievements over the last three years.”

Morris added: “I’m delighted to hand the reins over to Kate and Ben and I look forward to continuing with them and the committee to raise the value of strategic planning and effectiveness still further over the next few years.”

Powered by The Communications Council, the APG is a non-political, non-profit organisation that aims to set standards of strategic excellence, promote creative thinking in the business arena, and provide planners and strategists with the tools and inspiration they need to be bold and rigorous thinkers.

Tony Hale, The Communications Council CEO, said: “We are excited to welcome Kate and Ben as our new APG Chairs. They are both highly respected and innovative leaders who are recognised in the industry for both their creativity and effectiveness, plus fantastic mentors for up-and-coming planners.”

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Angela for her great work in the role and continuing the APG culture of inspiring and mentoring our industry’s brightest minds,” he added.