PN hunts for UK chief as Joyce leaves post

Porter Novelli 'lifer' Fiona Joyce has stepped down as MD in a shock move, prompting the agency to trawl for a 'big-hitter' UK chief executive to restore growth.

Joyce, who was the agency's first graduate trainee in 1988 when it was Countrywide Communications, before rising to MD five years ago, will not leave PN, now 120-strong. She insisted the move was prompted by her desire to take a client-facing role that made use of her strategic PR skills.

She said the restructure had come at her own 'instigation and recommendation' after reviewing the agency's performance in the wake of European CEO Neil Backwith's departure last April (PRWeek, 27 February 2004).

'My strengths are in delivering strategic advice to clients. The business has suffered because I've had to spend too much time on operational stuff.

We're not growing as fast as we should be,' said Joyce.

'I haven't worked on the client side or in the wider industry. The agency needs someone with a reputation that opens doors,' she added.

Global CEO Helen Ostrowski told PRWeek that the seniority of the UK CEO appointment would 'help people understand that we're looking to operate (with clients) at that CEO level'.

PN technology practice head Jean Wylie takes the role of interim MD during the search.

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