Brent Gledhill, president of William Blair, has been elected chief executive officer, succeeding John Ettelson, who has been appointed William Blair’s chairman.
Gledhill assumed the leadership role on January 13 as William Blair celebrates a record year for client impact and firmwide growth in 2021.
“It is my pleasure to announce Brent’s new role as CEO, the capstone to a seamless and strategic transition that has the entire firm optimistic about sustaining our growth trajectory and maintaining the firm’s unique culture throughout our next phase of growth,” said Ettelson, who led the firm’s global expansion for the past 18 years and an increase in annual revenue to just over $2.3 billion. “After being named president during the firm’s record-setting 2021; having spent 12 years as the head of investment banking, leading business growth and exceptional client service in our global investment banking group; and serving as a member the firm’s executive committee, Brent is positioned well for the continued delivery of strong results and supporting our corporate values.”
Gledhill joined William Blair as an investment banker in Chicago in 1997. He was promoted to head the firm’s European and Asian banking group in 2001, based in London. In 2009, Gledhill returned to the United States and was named global head of investment banking. Under his leadership, the firm opened offices around the world and completed strategic partnerships with firms in Asia, Israel, and Australia. This expansion included growing the investment banking team to more than 700 bankers on four continents, while consistently delivering world-class service and outcomes for clients across more than 30 countries. In July 2021, Gledhill was named president as part of the executive committee’s leadership transition plan. With this promotion, he becomes the sixth CEO in the 87-year history of the firm.
“I am honored to have been elected as William Blair’s CEO and entrusted to serve the firm by empowering our global team and preserving our unique culture,” Gledhill said. “I want to thank my colleagues at William Blair, especially John, for making this transition as smooth as possible and executing at the highest level day in and day out to ensure our clients’ continued success. I step into this role focused on investing actively to grow the impact we make for clients, by expanding our relationships and intellectual capital, innovating to enhance our processes, and hiring experts around the world who fit our collaborative culture.”
William Blair’s 2021 success was the result of recent and continuing strategic business investments firmwide, including the firm’s global investment banking team expanding by 53% over the past three years; William Blair Investment Management’s acquisition of Investment Counselors of Maryland, a well-known $4 billion firm with a strong long-term track record of delivering client results; and the firm’s leading private wealth management group opening new offices in Denver; Stamford, Connecticut; and Washington, while also hiring additional advisors in Atlanta, Baltimore, and New York.