We at Rasky Partners are proud of our talented public relations and public affairs experts across the firm’s practice areas. In our ongoing Meet the Expert series, we sit down with a different agency leader on Mondays to get their thoughts on several important and timely questions and gain a greater sense of their industry expertise and experiences. This week we sit down with Rasky COO, Ron Walker.
What interests you most about the work Rasky Partners is doing?
What interests me most about the firm is the actual strategic communications, media, government, and procurement solutions work with companies local, national, and international. Rasky Partners does this with expertise and relationships on both sides of the aisle, which is extremely effective in getting results for our clients. And being able to leverage my previous experiences in business and government to the strategic offerings at the firm really piqued my interest.
Importantly, the team here at Rasky Partners is phenomenal! They are experts in their field, passionate about their work, and create a positive and productive culture here at the firm.
You have known Rasky’s CEO, Larry Rasky, for some time now. You served on Rasky’s board of advisors and have now transitioned into your role as Chief Operation Officer. In your opinion, why is it important for agencies in this industry to have a strong leadership team, including a COO?
It is extremely important for all businesses including agencies to have a strong leadership team to guide and execute a strategy. In the agency business the pace is so fast and real time that you constantly have to make sure that you remain focused on the key performance indicators for the firm as well as the client.
In this role of COO at Rasky Partners, I work directly with Larry, the senior leadership team, and the advisory board to ensure that we are running the agency as efficiently as possible on a day-to-day basis. What is unique about this COO role is that it is both operational and client focused. I believe strongly that in order to be fully productive, you have to be involved in customer acquisition.
Before joining Rasky, you most recently served as Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development under Governor Charlie Baker. What insights did you gain in this role that have helped you become a better professional in the private sector?
I gained a deep appreciation for how decisions are made at the executive level and across Secretariats. In addition, I also further recognized how complicated it could be for an individual or company to leverage the vast offerings and resources within the Commonwealth to grow their business. My experience as Secretary has increased my ability as a private sector professional to understand the power of understanding how government can have a material impact on your business.
What do you see as your greatest achievements as Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development?
First of all, any of the accomplishments made in my Secretariat were a direct result of the Governor’s leadership in these areas. In fact, the Governor has been the top-ranked governor in the country since being elected.
I am most proud of the fact that more people are working in the Commonwealth today since the data has been tracked. In that light, the administration achieved record unemployment rates during my tenure as Secretary. Also, we had a focus on the chronically unemployed and made great progress in getting people to work. This was a direct result of working closely with companies across the Commonwealth to understand the “demand” side for talent and connecting industry with the “supply” side of the workforce system within the Commonwealth.
In addition, we were able to move the Department of Unemployment Assistance to the cloud as the first agency in the Commonwealth, and I believe in the country.
The last thing that I will mention is the creation of the Workforce Skills Cabinet by executive order (I was appointed chair by the Governor) that brought together the Secretaries of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, and Housing and Economic Development to focus on impactful solutions around skills training and jobs. With the Governor’s leadership, we embarked on an initiative with vocational schools which resulted in the Governor successfully filing $45 million in capital grants to upgrade equipment skills training. These grants would also include community colleges and partnerships with businesses.
Prior to your appointment in the Baker Administration, you were co-founder and president of Next Street Financial, LLC, a merchant bank that provides strategic advice and access to capital to companies and entrepreneurs nationally. How has your experience as an entrepreneur and executive proven beneficial in your role here at Rasky?
My direct experience as a banking executive and business owner of a strategic consulting firm that serviced small and midsize firms like Rasky Partners is an asset in this role. It is also very helpful that Larry Rasky hired me as his strategic advisor. Moreover, we hired Rasky Partners to assist us in federal government relations.
As an entrepreneur, I clearly understand the importance of strategic growth and profitability through a disciplined strategic and managed process.
When it comes to strategic growth and planning, what important trends should business leaders be aware of going forward into 2018 and beyond?
Despite the strong and diverse economy, business leaders of firms like ours have to recognize that companies are being very disciplined in their decision to hire outside firms. In addition, there is a leadership transfer going on in the market which means new strategic thinking. As a result, companies need to constantly understand the market demand for their services and what success looks like now.
What are some of the key factors companies and organizations should consider when selecting a PR and public affairs firm?
One of the key factors is demonstrated performance and strength of the talent at the leadership level of the firm. Also, the level and depth of the relationships the firm has on both sides of the aisle to deliver results. Lastly, the strength and diversity of the portfolio of the firm and its proven value system.
There is no shortage of PR and public affairs firms in Boston and Washington, DC. What sets Rasky apart from the rest when it comes to our approach?
What sets Rasky Partners apart are the strong and deep relationships on both sides of the aisle from Massachusetts to Washington DC, nationally, and abroad. The firm also has deep proven domain expertise in each of our service areas, a phenomenal track record of over 28 years with results in some of the most interesting and complex matters, and strong leadership from the CEO and throughout the team.
If you had to give one piece of advice to a client about strategic growth, what would it be?
What gets measured gets managed!
For more on Rasky’s industry expertise, please click here.