NEW YORK: Richard Edelman said Wednesday afternoon that recently elevated global public-engagement and future strategies chair Robert Phillips is leaving his agency to focus on academia.
“[Phillips is] a hugely intelligent man,” said Edelman. “He has a deep passion for our industry and believes that we have to have an intellectual framework.”
He added that Phillips wants to become a professor, write a second book, and improve how people perceive public relations. “We need someone like that,” Edelman explained.
The independent agency said Wednesday that Phillips was stepping down, just two weeks after his role was expanded to include global responsibilities. On November 15, Phillips was given the additional role of global chair for public engagement and future strategies. He also served as EMEA president and CEO.
Edelman said Phillips' departure is a “little unusual,” but that the agency veteran wants to focus on education. Phillips is understood to be focusing on teaching in the short-term, given his recent appointment as visiting professor at Cass Business School, part of City University in London, and writing his second book of “public engagement.”
The firm will begin a search process for Phillips' replacement, said Edelman. COO Matt Harrington will spend a few months in London starting in January, he added. EMEA COO Susan Eastoe will serve as “interim leader” while the agency reviews the structure.
Earlier this week, Edelman named Jennifer Cohan chair of its global consumer practice, effective at the beginning of next year. She will be based in New York and report to Alan VanderMolen, vice chair of Daniel J. Edelman Holdings and president and CEO of global practices.
She will replace Christina Smedley, who left the agency in September to join PayPal as VP of global communications, a newly created role.