Gary Hobbs, CEO of the UK's largest healthcare PR specialist, Medical Action Communications (MAC), has left the company, sparking a reorganisation of senior staff.
Christopher O'Toole has been promoted from executive vice-president of MAC USA to president of the whole company, based in New Jersey. He will report to Robert Blink, who has been made chief executive officer of Quintiles Medical Communications, which owns MAC.
Smita Desai has been promoted to managing director, MAC UK, reporting to O'Toole, and is now looking after the day-to-day operations of the company in this country. She previously held the role of director of strategic business development.
Hobbs' departure comes as a surprise to the industry.
Regarding his future, MAC would only say that he was 'pursuing other business interests'.
Margot James, her former boss at Shire Hall, said she thought Desai's 'leadership qualities and commercial aggression' would make her ideal for the role.
Hobbs joined MAC in January 1999 from Franklin Scientific Publications, where he was managing director. On joining, he began a 'create the future' internal communications campaign after an audit of company culture.
MAC often draws criticism within the industry from those who claim its work is in the medical education area, not health public relations. Its client list reads like a Who's Who of the pharmaceutical industry, however, and includes Pfizer, Glaxo Wellcome and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Its fee income is just below pounds 10 million and grew 32 per cent in the past year. With 126 staff working purely in the healthcare sector, MAC is the largest specialist PR company in any sector of PR Week's league table of the top 150 PR consultancies.