H+K returns Thorne to COO role as part of realignment

NEW YORK: Hill+Knowlton Strategies has appointed vice chairman Mark Thorne global COO, succeeding Ken Luce, who will take on a senior adviser position. The move is part of a realignment of senior roles at the WPP Group firm.

NEW YORK: Hill+Knowlton Strategies has appointed vice chairman Mark Thorne global COO, succeeding Ken Luce, who will take on a senior adviser position. The move is part of a realignment of senior roles at the WPP Group firm.

Thorne previously served as COO for H+K from 1994 to 2011. Before that, he was CFO of WPP from 1993 to 1994.

Luce, who joined the firm in January 2011 from Weber Shandwick, is shifting his role to be “exclusively related to large clients,” and he will work from the firm's Dallas office, said global chairman and CEO Jack Martin.

His responsibilities will include working with senior agency leaders on client work, organic growth opportunities, and new business, said Luce. 

“In the time period where I was under my non-compete with Weber Shandwick, I was doing less client work, and I was very anxious in getting back to client work and working with folks on growing new business,” he explained. 

At the beginning of the year, Weber sued H+K, accusing former employees Luce and Jody Venturoni, currently EVP at H+K, of stealing confidential information, clients, and employees. The legal dispute was settled out of court in June. 

“[Luce] had a rough few months, bogged down in a totally unnecessary lawsuit,” said Martin. “This is really his highest and best use.”

The change at COO is part of a “broader realignment” at the agency, added Martin.

Global vice chair of strategy and marketing Amanda Groty will become the firm's “co-head of tech” along with Joshua Reynolds, EVP of the global technology practice, he said.

Martin is also creating a “global corporate practice,” which will be co-led by vice chair and former H+K EMEA CEO Andrew Laurence, he said. The firm will name the other co-leader in coming weeks.

Internal communications and crisis will be a part of the new corporate advisory unit, said Martin, who added that the firm will announce co-heads of its public affairs practice in the next two weeks.

“What I'm doing increasingly is the two in the box philosophy that I had at Public Strategies that I liked a lot,” said Martin. “It gives you the opportunity to have geographic balance and it gives the opportunity to have a partnership between two talented people who have strengths.”

Martin said he plans on reviewing the senior leadership and “shuffling the deck” every year to see what he can “improve on.” 

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