Winkler steps up to run MSLGroup Washington office

WASHINGTON: MSLGroup North America has asked Shellie Winkler to step in as interim MD of its Washington DC office. She is filling the role after Neil Dhillon exited the agency.

WASHINGTON: MSLGroup North America has asked Shellie Winkler to step in as interim MD of its Washington DC office.

She is filling the role after Neil Dhillon recently exited the agency.

Dhillon's departure came about a year after plaintiffs in the gender-discrimination lawsuit against MSL and parent company Publicis Groupe filed court documents claiming he and other executives behaved in a derogatory manner toward female employees. The suit against MSL and Publicis is ongoing.

It is unclear exactly when Dhillon exited the firm. A company spokesman would not comment on whether his departure was tied to the lawsuit.

Dhillon joined the agency in 2008 after stints at Ruder Finn, MWW, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. He was deputy assistant secretary of government affairs at the US Department of Transportation in the Clinton administration.

While the search for a permanent replacement for Dhillon's post as Washington MD is underway, the company reiterated that it is “committed to a strong and growing presence in Washington DC,” an agency representative said via email.

Last month, MSL promoted Winkler to chief strategy officer, a new position at the agency. The role requires her to focus on strategy formulation and implementation, including innovation of practices and specialties, agency governance, processes and guidelines, and external partnerships.

She joined the Publicis agency in September 2012 as North American director of its health and corporate practices. Winkler was GM of corporate and public affairs in Edelman's New York office from January 2007 to May 2012.

MSL parent Publicis said Sunday that it plans to merge with rival Omnicom Group in a deal that would create a holding company with a combined $22.7 billion in revenue as of the end of 2012.

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