Women in senior roles would bring new energy to agencies

PRWeek's Agency Business Report, released each May, is one of the most highly anticipated issues in our calendar year, profiling 50 firms and analyzing the financials of almost 200 others.

PRWeek's Agency Business Report, released each May, is one of the most highly anticipated issues in our calendar year, profiling 50 firms and analyzing the financials of almost 200 others.

The top 12 agency profiles usually feature the big-hitting network shops and a smattering of independents: Edelman, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, and APCO Worldwide. In recent years the photos alongside them haven't changed too much, as there has been relative stability. But next year's annual report will definitely look different.

Last month's latest, and possibly biggest change was Harris Diamond's anticipated exit from Weber Shandwick to a bigger role inside parent Interpublic Group, as CEO and president of ad giant McCann Worldgroup. Long-serving president Andy Polansky steps up to the top role and will look forward to putting even more of his stamp on the agency to which he has devoted most of his working life.

Elsewhere, Mark Penn left Burson-Marsteller for Microsoft to be replaced by Don Baer. Rob Flaherty took on the CEO role from Ray Kotcher in a succession as carefully planned as Polansky/Diamond at Weber. Renee Wilson became North America president at MSLGroup. And Michael Ramah is still keeping the CEO's seat at Porter Novelli warm temporarily following the departure of Gary Stockman back in July.

It's a welcome sign of new blood and energy into top levels of agency management. But it will be much more encouraging when senior female agency executives start to snag the top jobs. There are many dynamic women leaders in the mid-sized category, such as Aedhmar Hynes at Text 100, Barby Siegel at Zeno, Jen Prosek at Prosek Partners, Elise Mitchell at Mitchell Communications, plus Marina Maher, Margi Booth, and Liz Kaplow.

But this female representation is not yet mirrored at the largest firms. Renee Wilson is a great start at MSLGroup and joins other women leaders such as Margery Kraus, Melissa Waggener Zorkin, Donna Imperato, and Marian Salzman.

In time it would be great to see the likes of Karen van Bergen at Porter Novelli, Barri Rafferty at Ketchum, Gail Heimann at Weber and others actually running agencies as well. 

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