Mike Fernandez, U.S. CEO, Burson-Marsteller: Power List 2017

2017 rank: 27

No stranger to the PRWeek Power List, which he has graced on several occasions as in-house PR lead at Cargill and State Farm, Mike Fernandez features for the first time in an agency guise.

This is no sleight on Burson-Marsteller CEO and worldwide chair Don Baer, who hired Fernandez and promoted him to lead the WPP firm’s U.S. business just four months after bringing him on as chair of its global corporate and financial practice.

But Fernandez is already demonstrating his talent for inspiring clients and staffers alike and building on a drive to diversify the agency instigated by legendary founder Harold Burson, and built on by worldwide vice chair and chief client officer Pat Ford and Baer himself.

WPP agency leaders measure their place in the holding company’s popularity charts by mentions in CEO Martin Sorrell’s annual financial reports, and Burson was dubbed "less buoyant" in 2016 compared to its siblings for the second year running.

As Baer told PRWeek, "We didn’t grow the way we would have liked across the region, which is our biggest. When the U.S. doesn’t grow it levels things out."

As U.S. leader, it will be on Fernandez to turn this around and get Burson in Sir Martin’s good books when the 2017 accounts are closed.

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