Laura Desmond resigns from Publicis Groupe

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After a six-month sabbatical, the former Starcom Mediavest CEO has announced her intention to step down at the end of the year.

Less than a year after being named chief revenue officer of a newly restructured Publicis Groupe, Laura Desmond has announced she will resign from the holding company at the end of 2016.

Rishad Tobaccowala, Publicis’ strategy and growth officer, assumed Desmond’s role during her sabbatical, and will continue in that role following her departure.

Desmond had served as CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group for eight years before moving into her current role in December 2015, when the holding company restructured into four hubs focused on creative, media, digital/technology and healthcare. The new role didn’t last long, however, as she went on sabbatical in July for family health reasons.

"I am very grateful to Maurice Levy and everyone at Publicis Groupe for their support during my leave," she said in a statement. "The family health issue is significantly better. This sabbatical allowed me to consider where my greatest entrepreneurial and leadership opportunity existed."

"After thoughtful reflection and discussions with Maurice I have concluded this is the right step for me," she continued. "I leave the Groupe with nothing but thanks and appreciation for the opportunities and support I’ve received throughout my career and during my leave."

Desmond more than doubled the size of Starcom Mediavest during her tenure, and remains one of the media industry’s most prominent female executives.

"We are all very grateful to Laura for her many important contributions to Publicis Groupe and are sorry to see her go," said Maurice Levy, Publicis’ chairman and CEO, in a statement. "I know that Laura will continue to be as incredibly successful in the future as she has been with us. With my colleagues of the Management Board we wish her only the very best."

The chief revenue officer role is tasked with "developing strategies that catalyze Groupe transformation and business transformation through the alchemy of creativity and technology," according to the company.

Tobaccowala was the chief strategist of Publicis prior to the December restructuring, and before that the chairman of DigitasLBi and of Razorfish.

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