NEW YORK: Edelman US president and CEO Mark Hass is stepping down from his role after five years at the agency. Russell Dubner, president of Edelman New York, will succeed him on July 1.
Hass, who has held leadership positions in Asia and the US at Edelman, was named US CEO in February 2012.
A source close to the situation told PRWeek that one reason for Hass’ departure was that the former Manning Selvage & Lee CEO is used to being in the top position at a firm with final say on all its decisions.
Hass was not immediately available for comment.
Prior to serving as US CEO, Hass was president of Edelman China from 2010 to 2012, where he oversaw the company's Edelman and Pegasus operations in the Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou offices, serving clients including Pepsi, Starbucks, Walmart, and General Electric.
"[Hass] did a really good job for us in China. I think our business went up by nearly 100% in the time he was there," said global agency CEO Richard Edelman. "He had a unique understanding of the possibility of the Creative Newsroom."
Edelman unveiled its Creative Newsroom service, which works with clients to monitor and respond to relevant social media conversations, in October 2013. Global COO Matt Harrington said Hass will work at Edelman on Creative Newsroom efforts through August 31.
In the last two years under Hass’ leadership, Edelman’s US business, which includes 14 offices, increased 25% to more than $440 million in annual revenue.
Before Edelman, Hass launched his own firm named MH Group Communications. He previously served as CEO of MSLGroup predecessor Manning Selvage & Lee for about four years.
Harrington added that he and Hass spoke about succession plans in the US, and they decided July 1, the beginning of Edelman’s fiscal year, was the best time for the transition. Harrington had served as US CEO prior to Hass.
"The thing that I’m pleased about is that we’ve gotten to a place as a firm where we have talent and the ability to make orderly transitions," explained Harrington. "Dubner is just the ideal candidate on so many levels."
He added that when staffers were notified of the change, it was gratifying to see "how excited everyone was to see [Dubner] advance" because he’s viewed favorably by colleagues.
Dubner will report to Harrington and join the firm’s executive committee. He has led its New York office, which has about 800 staffers, since 2008. Dubner joined the agency in 1992 as an account executive.
Edelman, who has worked with Dubner for 21 years, said he is an "outstanding young man" who has a strong understanding of digital.
The New York office, which is the firm’s largest operation, Edelman added, is expected to make $140 million this year.
Edelman expects to name Dubner’s replacement, likely via internal promotion, within a week or two.
This story was updated on April 23 with comment from Edelman executives and sources close to the situation.