All change at the top in the January C-suite transfer window

A new year is heralding a dramatic and unprecedented set of big-name industry leaders departing agencies in PR's equivalent of the January transfer window.

It seems that every five minutes PRWeek has news of another change at the top – so much so that we hear Danny Rogers is considering bringing in Jim White from Sky Sports to keep track of all the movement in the market.

One move that has taken everyone by surprise is industry legend Rachel Friend departing from Weber Shandwick. In industry terms, that is like Pep leaving Man City.

An innovator, respected leader and tactical genius, Rachel has been at the vanguard of transformational change at Weber in the UK, winning plenty of trophies along the way. Her sudden availability will no doubt alert many holding companies and agency owners, putting added pressure on C-suite managers who've had the dreaded vote of confidence against a backdrop of bad results.

A word of warning to agency CEOs: if you see Rachel sitting in the stands (OK, your office reception), it could be time to clear your desk and say your goodbyes to the team.

Alternatively, Rachel may opt to start her own club, build her own team from scratch, and work her way up the PRWeek agency rankings; but we'll have to wait and see. 

Meanwhile, Molly Aldridge has left M&C Saatchi Public Relations, the agency she co-founded, following its merger with Talk. Jim White would struggle to keep up here, because that's a bit like Spurs merging with Arsenal if they were both owned by M&C Saatchi.

Where the football analogy does chime back in are reported issues of FFP with the accounts at the holding company, which has already seen adland deity Maurice Saatchi leave the business he founded in 1974.

Elsewhere, Caroline Farley has been appointed MD of Fever after co-founder Bruce MacLachan switched codes to become EMEA director of consumer comms at Amazon.

Bruce, I'm told, is a diehard Sunderland fan, and therefore very familiar with managerial merry-go-rounds, should further comment be required.

Finally, news has just broken that Chris McCafferty has opened the purse strings at MSL with his first major signing, swooping for Talker Tailor’s midfield general Jo Grierson to slot in as his new UK MD. Meanwhile, over at Grayling, Jonathan Curtis has been given the captain's armband and wingers Tom Nutt and Nathan Kemp have been asked to cover considerably more ground.

Should PRWeek feel the need to place its reporting team outside agency offices for breaking news of any further departures, W's consumer team will be happy to provide warming Bovril and delicious Papa John's pizza to keep their spirits up.

Warren Johnson is the founder and managing director of W Communications


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