Ogilvy UK names new chief people officer to turn agency into 'talent magnet'

Helen Matthews has been promoted to chief people officer at Ogilvy UK.

Matthews reports to chief executive Michael Frohlich and joins the executive leadership board.

Ogilvy said the position is a "newly defined role" in which Matthews will ensure the agency has the "right offering and culture in place to attract, nurture and grow the best talent from across the industry and beyond".

Matthews is pursuing a "holistic strategy" to turn the agency into a "the biggest talent magnet in the industry". Ogilvy said that she will work across its internal networks, the agency’s wellness offering, learning and development, flexible working and recruitment.

Ogilvy's former chief talent officer, Kirsty Wilson, left the agency in October.

Frohlich said: "We know that the needs and wants of talent in our industry are changing, and Helen brings a wealth of experience from outside Ogilvy and outside of our industry.

"She has a refreshing, cross-industry view, which will ensure we are always listening to the needs of the community and innovating a workplace and culture where people truly thrive."

Joining Ogilvy in 2018 as change lead, Matthews previously worked at Time Inc as organisational development and HR consultant. From 2011 to 2017, she was a freelance consultant to businesses including The Outfit. Before that, she held roles at the BBC and TV company Tiger Aspect Productions.

Matthews told Campaign that her approach at Ogilvy would involve applying the same thinking the agency used with its clients to its staff.

"I really want to put the employee experience at the heart of everything this year, making sure this exemplifies a culture rooted in creativity, learning, listening, diversity and inclusion," she said. "We’ve worked with our own customer engagement strategists to tap into their expertise and look at the employee experience through a whole new lens."

People in the industry had a right to expect a ""grown-up relationship with their employer", Matthews pointed out, noting: "I think it’s very easy for a workplace to get stuck in a paternalistic relationship. Equally, the industry needs to shift away from our people departments as being seen just as the guardians of policy.

"We need to have a culture of trust, empowering talent to determine how they want to work, take control of their careers and feel like their development is a collaborative conversation – not a dictated one."

After the upheaval of 2018 that saw the majority of Ogilvy's leadership team depart following a restructure of the business, Matthews commented: "2019 feels really positive for us."

She added: "There’s a tangible sense of momentum at Ogilvy right now and I’m proud of how our people are really carrying the agency forward. We’ve broken down our siloes, made innovative changes to our structures and we are already seeing the benefits for ourselves and clients."

This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign

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