Profile: Jonathan Jordan, UK chief executive, Burson-Marsteller

'A successful agency needs three attributes,' argues Jonathan Jordan, settling in to his refurbished office. 'Strong clients, great people and a respected brand. We certainly have the first two, and I would argue we also have the most respected brand in the business.'

Some will dismiss this as PR hubris from B-M's newly installed UK chief executive - he was confirmed in the role last week after three months of interim management - but Jordan disagrees.

The B-M name has heritage, he argues, and the number of agencies that can genuinely be described as global heavyweights could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Jordan's rise to the top of the WPP agency has been swift and impressive, particularly given that, at 37, he is relatively young.

He joined from Fleishman-Hillard just three years ago to head its UK tech team. A year later, he was heading B-M's European tech practice, and was then put in charge of the UK corporate practice before being promoted to deputy CEO this January. His opportunity to bag the top job came after long-serving Scandinavian Per Heggenes's exit this summer.

Although he winces at the term ‘people person', Jordan - known affectionately within the agency as JJ - clearly is exactly that.

There are more than 100 people in B-M's Bloomsbury Way offices, and he seems to know by name everybody who passes. Even workmen refurbishing an area designed to host visiting clients are greeted with an exchange of banter.

He seems every bit the suited, serious corporate agency head; but he has an easy, almost self-depreciating humour, and a broad grin to go with it. Former colleagues are full of praise for Jordan's leadership abilities.

‘His business and PR skills are second to none, and when things get tough he is excellent at rallying the team to share the pain over a pint,' says F-H associate director Tamara Morris. Staff loyalty and retention have always been high on Jordan's agenda.

‘It is important everyone has opportunities to grow their careers,' he says. ‘And I don't mean in a touchy-feely way where nothing actually gets done.'

His background is unusual for an agency head. A love of sailing led him to join the Royal Navy after graduating from King's College London. He left after four years to be a journalist, becoming news editor of Hi-Fi World in 1993. Three years later, the CEO of Audio Partnership offered him the chance to become the firm's first PR and marketing manager.

Next, Jordan joined corporate comms and marketing outfit CMC PR before moving to F-H in 1998. He became head of tech in 2000, growing the team from six to 25 and ‘storming up PRWeek's technology league table' thanks to major wins such as Nortel and Dell. Then the dotcom bubble burst; the agency lost Nortel, and Jordan needed a big-money replacement.

‘We won Intel against a strong field of agencies equally desperate for the work,' he recalls. ‘That was a vital win.'

Outside of work, Jordan remains a keen sailor and an ‘outdoors person', coaching a local under-six rugby side on Sunday mornings.

He lives in Surrey with his wife and three young children (‘obviously, I support Manchester United', he says with a wry smile). In fairness, his wife is a season ticketholder at Old Trafford.

So, is Jordan the right choice to take the B-M helm? Edelman's European health EV-P Kate Triggs, formerly of B-M, says: ‘Having Heidi's [Sinclair, B-M European CEO] respect - which he does - will help. And he has an understanding of brand marketing and corporate comms, so he should be able to connect with each of the practices.'

Accenture marketing and comms director Peter Thomas has known Jordan as ‘friend and foe' for many years - firstly as his opposite number when Thomas was at Hill & Knowlton.

‘The first time I met Jonathan was to hand over my largest client,' recalls Thomas. ‘He behaved with ultimate professionalism and courtesy. He manages the delicate balance between the needs of the business and the needs of the people extremely well, and I think he will make an excellent CEO.'

CV - Jonathan Jordan

2006 - UK chief executive, Burson-Marsteller

2003 - Head of UK technology practice,  Burson-Marsteller

1998 - Senior account manager, rising to head of tech (2000), Fleishman-Hillard

1997 - Account manager, CMC PR

1996 - PR and marketing manager, Audio Partnership

1993 - News editor, Hi-Fi World

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