Brett Gosper knows how to talk his way out of a sticky situation. The Australian, who described the recent England Ashes win as "the best outcome for cricket", has had plenty of experience.
With his latest career decision, he's going to need his talent for finding the silver lining. He is joining McCann Erickson US barely a year after taking up the presidency at TBWA\New York. What's more, Gosper spent a short nine months at McCann as the general manager of the New York office before popping off to TBWA. When he joined McCann the first time, the accounting scandal was breaking over its parent, IPG. To go back again, before the situation is fully resolved, seems to be the move of a man who believes he can't go wrong.
But what looks like free-and-easy job-hopping is a kind of home-coming in Gosper-speak. The degree of spin applied rivals one of his compatriot Shane Warne's legendary wrong 'uns. "In an odd sort of way, everywhere I've gone has seen me going back, so maybe I have an excess of loyalty," Gosper says.
As evidence, he points to his last job working for Jean-Marie Dru at TBWA\New York, with whom he spent six years at BDDP in Paris. After that, he points out, he spent nine years at the then Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, so his CV is not exactly cluttered.
And what of the other issue, the financial scandal at IPG? Gosper says he's satisfied that the outcome of the Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the holding company's books will mean business as usual at McCann.
"McCann has been incredibly resilient through all the - let's say - 'hype' surrounding IPG. From the information and discussions I've had, I'm getting the sense we're very close to putting the bulk of that behind the agency. Then we can get on and deal with the issues that other agencies deal with."
For all his laid-back attitude, Gosper doesn't take the "issues" lightly.
Reports are that it took the McCann WorldGroup chief executive, John Dooner, several months and a couple of attempts to convince him to return.
And no doubt Gosper received reasonable incentive to take this "risk" with his career. On top of what is no doubt an attractive salary, the break-up of IPG would lead to valuable rewards for executives with share options.
Nor was his position at TBWA\ New York all it was cracked up to be. The other rumour running up and down Madison Avenue is that Gosper's duties were overlapping with those of Robert LePlae, the president of TBWA\California, who has since taken on Gosper's old responsibilities in New York. That said, Gosper's time there was not wasted: he was instrumental in taking the bulk of the Sprint business from Publicis & Hal Riney after the telecoms company bought Nextel, a TBWA client.
Still, his new job as president of McCann in the US is much bigger. And it was the scale of the task that proved irresistible to him. "I see it as one of the ultimate jobs, and I'll do my utmost to do well. It's an incredibly huge challenge. It's the kind of job I've always wanted to do," he says.
Gosper will take on responsibility for all the US offices - Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City - alongside the regional director and chief operating officer of McCann WorldGroup, Eric Keshin.
That said, his primary focus will be on the New York headquarters. The New York office alone has around 1,000 employees and revenue of $220 million, dwarfing TBWA\New York's staff of 300 and revenue of $90 million.
He will also be in charge of a number of global clients, including L'Oreal, which he is already close to after his previous stint at the agency. And, given his silver tongue, part of his job will certainly be to smooth relations with those McCann clients destabilised by the accountancy scandal.
While it's possible to ascribe Gosper's itchiness of foot to a determination to break into the US market, most in the industry accept his choices at face value, believing him destined for an even bigger role. Rupert Howell, the McCann WorldGroup regional director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says: "He's taking the most powerful agency job in this business. He has every chance of going to the top."
Dooner certainly believes Gosper has the talent to make him one of the big players. "His potential is limitless. He is one of those guys who can achieve whatever they want to in this business," he gushes.
Gosper seems less willing to make wild predictions for himself. Which is probably wise, seeing as last year he was quoted in the US press describing his move to TBWA as "the right choice for the next five years".
For now, he's keeping his eyes on the new position, which he started last Wednesday. "We'll see what the future holds, but I don't see this job as a stepping stone," Gosper says.
This time, he'll have chosen these words carefully, as everyone will be watching for his next googly.
CV Age: 46 Lives: Connecticut Family: Married, three children 2005: President, McCann Erickson US 2004-2005: President, TBWA\New York 2004: General manager, McCann Erickson New York 1994-2003: Chairman and chief executive, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper 1993-1994: Managing director, BDDP Frankfurt 1989-1993: Board director and deputy managing director, BDDP Paris
This article was first published on Campaign