Linda Sawyer, chairman and former CEO of Deutsch, is leaving the Interpublic Group agency by the end of the year.
Sawyer, a 27-year veteran of the agency, said in a statement today that she will be leaving Deutsch to launch "a highly disruptive e-commerce venture" next year.
Sawyer began her career at the agency in 1989 in account management, rising up the ranks to managing partner and chief operating officer of the New York agency in 2001 and to North American CEO in 2005, when she succeeded founder Donny Deutsch in the role. She was named chairman of the agency in 2015, again succeeding the founder in the role after Deutsch announced he would be leaving the agency. At that time, Sawyer promoted Mike Sheldon, CEO of Deutsch LA, to assume her responsibilities as North American CEO. Sheldon will add the chairman title upon Sawyer’s departure.
"With our succession plans in place, Mike’s strong leadership and a dynamic and wildly talented management line up, the agency is well poised for the next chapter. It’s an ideal time for me to pursue a new challenge," said Sawyer, in a statement. "I will fondly miss my Deutsch family but will always be rooting behind the scenes."
In the statement announcing her departure, Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of Interpublic, thanked Sawyer for her "dedication and commitment" and described her as a "fierce protector of her people and her agency, as well as a partner who clients know will always make their success her top priority."
Sheldon added, "Linda has nurtured Deutsch’s independent culture and been a selfless contributor in making the advertising industry stronger and more diverse. She will be leaving an amazing legacy."