Global Tolerance leadership role shared as founder Simon Cohen steps down

The ownership of Global Tolerance, an agency which has worked with the likes of the Dalai Lama and Unesco, has been split between two up-and-coming marcoms figures following a global hunt to find a successor to founder Simon Cohen.

Noa Gafni & Rosie Warin: replacing Simon Cohen in joint MD roles at Global Tolerance
Noa Gafni & Rosie Warin: replacing Simon Cohen in joint MD roles at Global Tolerance

Noa Gafni, a digital strategist from the World Economic Forum, and Rosie Warin, a director from Forster Communications, are set to take over the agency after an international search that attracted applications from more than 30 countries.

The pair will receive 95 per cent of shares, £10,000 cash in the bank and all the company assets for the agency, which is relaunching having been put on ice for more than a year as Cohen sought to spend more time with his family.

Cohen, who retains a 5 per cent stake in the agency, told PRWeek that he did not expect to hire two people to lead Global Tolerance. However, he said he was struck by how the pair got on in the last round of interviews, which were held in front of a panel of board members that included Ogilvy director Iain Bundred. 

"There was obvious chemistry between the two of them and they collaborated really well," said Cohen. 

"Noa is experienced as a digital strategist who has been operating on a global stage, while Rosie has amazing credentials in terms of business acumen and social vision. My main expectation now is that they will enjoy and embrace this opportunity to lead their own agency."

Dubbed an "open leadership exercise" by Cohen, the search for a successor involved five stages with candidates undergoing tests ranging from a Twitter exercise through to answering questions from the panel after presenting their detailed business plans.

"The model of traditional exit strategies, such as mergers and acquisitions, is broken and it is an area that needs innovation. I think they [Gafni and Warin] will prove this open leadership exercise to be a sustainable one, and hopefully other business leaders will look at it and consider it to be one that could work for them."

The agency officially relaunches in October and is expected to branch out beyond its previous clientele in the non-profit sector into the private sector, with Warin working from London and Gafni from the US, where she is based.  

Warin, who was nominated as one of PRWeek’s 30 under 30, said that the expansion of the agency’s potential client list would "absolutely not" alter the underlying principals of the business, adding that Global Tolerance would also branch out beyond a previous focus on faith.

"We feel we can help deliver social change in other areas such as equality, youth international development and social innovation. In terms of moving out beyond the non-profit sector, we see that there is an extraordinary amount of social change to be delivered in the private sector, and we will work with companies to install social purpose in the heart of  organisations. We will also have strict guidelines in place."

Noa Gafni added: "Global Tolerance has pushed business boundaries since its conception, and Simon’s exit strategy is another bold manifestation of this. Under our leadership, the company will continue to place innovation front and centre – challenging convention to deliver effective comms and drive meaningful change."

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