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Mercury Hires Reflect Wide-Ranging Experience | Hill Climber

Addition of public figures is in line with firm’s push to expand and grow

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Ereli, left, is a new addition to the Mercury team. Rehberg, a former lawmaker who joined the firm earlier this year, said the work reminds him of his past in Congress.

An ambassador, a Senate staffer and a congressman walk into a public strategy firm ...

Mercury Public Affairs, founded in 1999, has added an impressive stable of public figures in the past several months, including J. Adam Ereli, the former ambassador to Bahrain; Michael Soliman, the former state director for Sen. Robert Menendez, D–N.J.; and former Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.

According to president and founding partner Kirill Goncharenko, the hiring of Ereli as the firm’s vice chairman, and other recent personnel additions by Mercury are in line with an expansion push by the firm.

“The company is on a very aggressive growth trajectory and these are all investments in new capabilities,” Goncharenko said.

The addition of Ereli, a seasoned foreign service officer, represents a foray into international issues for the firm, which has traditionally focused domestically.

Still, Goncharenko said Ereli’s hiring didn’t strictly stem from a desire to expand internationally. Rather, Ereli was a talent too good not to pursue.

“It was less looking to find an international person and more the fact that a wildly talented and highly regarded person appeared to be interested in the marketplace,” Goncharenko said.

Before serving as ambassador to Bahrain from 2007 to 2011, Ereli worked for the State Department for more than two decades in several countries across the Middle East, continually climbing the ladder.

“I don’t think you accidently get to be that successful at that level over that period of time, and everyone we talked to about him had nothing but highest regards for him,” Goncharenko said of Ereli.

Ereli is just coming off a two-year stint as the principal deputy assistant secretary of State for educational and cultural affairs, a department he called one of the “little-known jewels of the U.S. government.”

He explained that with an annual budget of about $600 million, the ECA was a huge player in education and cultural advocacy internationally.

Nonetheless, Ereli said he’s excited to begin his journey into the private market.

“Mercury is an interesting company,” he said. “They put a lot of smart people around the table and come up with creative ideas and solutions. That, to me, was the attraction of this firm.”

For his new employer, Ereli said he hopes to bring the unique quality of having made and developed relations with top officials throughout the world for decades.

“The service business is about relationships,” Ereli said. “That’s even more the case overseas, and particularly the Middle East, where it’s all about relationships.”

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