Re-Imagineers: Bob Jeffrey

You spent a long career in the advertising industry with your last role as worldwide chairman and CEO of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide (and then non-executive chairman). You wrapped up that career in 2016 and now you have reimagined yourself seven years later as CEO of the International Center of Photography in New York City.  Tell us about that move.

I’m fortunate to have had a successful career, and the opportunity to give back is something that really excites me. My commitment to ICP stems from that desire, but also from a steadfast belief in the central mission of the institution around “Concerned Photography.” ICP was founded by Cornell Capa in 1974 in honor of his brother, the photojournalist Robert Capa, who died covering the Indochina war. ICP defines Concerned Photography as “bearing witness,” with the belief that images have the ability to facilitate important social and political change.

In hindsight, coming into ICP, first as a trustee, and now as CEO, continues the narrative of my personal interest in photography. Dating back to my college years collecting photography and then later, through my career in advertising, I’ve continued to learn how to appreciate the power of the image to persuade and motivate.


We are now living in an era where people will launch an entirely new career after they finish their first major career, which could last 30 or 40 years.  What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a second career in the second half of their life?

As a former hard-driving global CEO managing over 12,000 people around the world, I’ve learned that variation is key. It is essential to be open to exploration and new experiences. Take yourself out of your comfort zone. Change your routines. Travel and educate yourself from other perspectives, outside of business. I’ve also found that returning to my entrepreneurial roots, by consulting young businesses and startups has given me valuable insights, energy, and inspiration. Lastly, I’ve been a dedicated athlete my entire life and continue to experiment with new ideas in health and fitness.


You are a man of many interests and involvements. Aside from taking on a new CEO role, what else is keeping you engaged and involved at this point in your life?

I’ve lived in New York since I was a freshman in college. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively across the world and experience a multitude of different places and cultures. At this point in my life, I am truly excited to be spending more time in the city I call home. I feel very strongly that New York City is the greatest city in the world. I find myself endlessly inspired and energized by the wealth of intellectual and social stimulation and diversity.

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