Natalie Gross is planning to “start something new again” in the new year following her departure from Amaze.

St Ives today confirmed that Gross, who had been CEO at Manchester-based Amaze for five years and on the staff for 17, had left the company. Amaze is ranked number two in Prolific North’s definitive Top Digital Agency rankings. 

Tony Murphy, the current CEO of London and Edinburgh-based Realise, will now head up all three of St Ives’ digital businesses – Amaze, Branded3 and Realise.

Former Amaze CEO Natalie Gross

Former Amaze CEO Natalie Gross

And Gross told Prolific North this afternoon that she would be taking some time out but would be staying in the agency world.

“It’s what I know,” she said. “I’m exploring a few opportunities and will be looking to start something new again.”

Originally recruited back in 1999, Gross led its first acquisition by the Hasgrove Group in 2007, during which time she became managing partner.

She became CEO in 2011 and played a key role in growing Amaze into one of the biggest agencies in the region, turning over £17.3m in its last accounts before it was bought by St Ives for £24.3m in 2013.

And she admitted that leading the agency into its 20th year in 2015 had been her “proudest” moment but that it had felt like a “bit of a swansong”.

“It was a significant year for me personally and professionally. It’s a fantastic company and I can’t stress enough how much it and the people mean to me.

“But when you work in our industry, you need to start every day with a level of resilience and 100% passion, and after 17 years there’s only so many more times you can do that, especially in a PLC.

“I’ve led two M&A activities and led the company out of the dark days of 2007, but I feel at this time that that’s enough for me personally.”