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GroupM’s global CEO Kelly Clark departs


By Stephen Lepitak, -

July 23, 2019 | 4 min read

GroupM’s global chief executive Kelly Clark is standing down after almost three years in the role, The Drum can reveal.

Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark is stepping down from the top GroupM role, The Drum understands

Internal sources have confirmed that he will leave the post, with Christian Juhl, currently chief executive of GroupM agency Essence, stepping up as his successor.

A successor to Juhl at Essence is now being sought, The Drum understands, although no one is yet in place.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Christian has the right combination of leadership, people and technology skills to build the modern media company, something he has demonstrated extraordinarily well at Essence. We have a great number of talented people across GroupM and its agencies, and I have every confidence in Christian’s ability to be an outstanding leader to them and an outstanding partner to our clients.”

Clark has led the WPP media giant globally since October 2016 and before that ran its North America and European operations.

The vastly experienced executive has served exclusively in WPP agencies since joining its JWT advertising firm as a media director in New York in 1988.

From there, Clark moved to Mindshare where he held chief exec roles in Asia Pacific and the UK and he also enjoyed a four year spell in charge of Maxus before taking the reins at GroupM.

The Drum understands news of Clark’s departure from the role was broken to senior staff within WPP this morning however he will remain as "an advisor" to GroupM.

Read added: “Kelly has had a very successful three years as CEO of GroupM, reflected in its recent strong run of new business wins. I’d like to thank him for his dedication and leadership over many years with the company. I am delighted that he will support Christian during the transition and continue as a trusted senior advisor to the company.”

The move follows a number of people moves within GroupM media agencies over recent weeks. Earlier this month, MediaCom announced several simultaneous changes to its global, EMEA and UK leadership teams led by the promotion of Nick Lawson to worldwide chief operating officer.

Lawson’s elevation coincides with that of Josh Krichefski and Kate Rowlinson who will helm the EMEA and UK leadership teams respectively, all with effect from September.

Wavemaker’s six-month search for a global chief executive also came to an end this month when it announced the appointment of MediaCom’s chief operations officer, Toby Jenner, to the role.

Jenner will be tasked with leading Wavemaker’s 8,600 employees who manage $13bn in billings for blue-chip clients across 90 countries when he takes up the post in September.

In recent weeks, Mediacom has been named as Ebay's global media business, while retaining Centrica's £55m account and Wavemaker and Essence were both tasked with handling L'Oreal's £106m account (previously held by Wavemaker, but defended with the addition of it's sister business.)

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