Lars Erik Grønntun leaves Hill+Knowlton for online learning company Kahoot

Grønntun is starting in the COO and CMO roles next Monday.

OSLO: Hill+Knowlton Strategies global president Lars Erik Grønntun is leaving the firm to become COO and CMO at Norwegian online learning company Kahoot.

Grønntun will be the company’s first COO and CMO when he starts in those roles on June 1. 

“Leaving behind a company and colleagues that I have worked with for the better part of my adult life is a difficult decision,” Grønntun said in a statement. “But for me the time was right to start a new chapter in my career.” 

Kahoot launched in 2013. It is headquartered in Norway and has offices in the U.S., U.K., France and Finland. The company posted revenue of $15.2 million last year.

Hill+Knowlton did not disclose its plans for Grønntun’s role except to say, “We will be sharing more information very soon,” in an emailed statement.

“[Grønntun] has been a highly regarded leader, client counselor and colleague, and we are immensely grateful for all he has done,” H+K global chairman and CEO AnnaMaria DeSalva said in a statement. “We very much wish him the best for this next step in his career.”

In a management shift last September, Grønntun was given responsibilities for all of Hill+Knowlton’s operations outside the U.S. He had shared global responsibilities, and the title of global president, with Richard Millar, who was assigned oversight of U.S. operations at the time. The shift was the first senior-level change DeSalva made after assuming leadership of the agency last year.

Grønntun and Millar were named global presidents in 2018, at the same time H+K said content division SJR would become an independent entity inside WPP.

In the wake of Grønntun’s departure, H+K has updated its leadership structure. In addition to the U.S., Millar has been assigned responsibility for Canada and Latin America. His direct reports include Sheila Wisniewski, president and CEO for Canada, and Eduardo Vieira and Ricardo Cesar, co-CEOs for Latin America. 

Bashar AlKadhi, CEO for the Middle East, Turkey, India and African, will also manage continental Europe and the Nordic countries. His direct reports will include Melanie Faithfull Kent and Ingo Heijnen, co-CEOs for continental Europe, and Henrik Halvorsen, CEO of the agency in the Nordics.

Grønntun began working for H+K, then known as Hill & Knowlton before its 2011 merger with Public Strategies, when the agency acquired his Norwegian consultancy, Gambit. He was named the WPP agency’s EMEA chairman and CEO of EMEA in 2014.

Two senior executives are set to join H+K shortly. The firm named Kelli Parsons as global chair of corporate affairs and Philippe Maze-Sencier as global chair of public affairs this week. Parsons will start on June 15 and Maze-Sencier on June 8.

H+K’s revenue declined 9% last year to $366 million as SJR separated from the agency, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report

This story was updated on May 28 with additional information.

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