McCann Worldgroup has hired NBCUniversal vet Nicolina Kuh O’Rorke as global chief financial officer, the agency network said on Monday.
O’Rorke replaces Gary Lee, who announced his retirement in October after serving as worldwide CFO for the global Interpublic agency network since 2006.
Prior to joining McCann Worldgroup, O’Rorke spent more than 16 years at NBCUniversal in various lead financial roles across the Sci Fi Channel, NBC News, The Today Show, MSNBC and NBC Sports. Most recently she was SVP, NBC sports enterprises and general manager, sports betting and gaming at the network.
“Nicolina is a unique talent in every way,” said Bill Kolb, chairman and CEO, McCann
Worldgroup, in a statement. “She is a battle-tested CFO from a global media network who began her career in the highest echelons of investment banking.
“Her professional skills are complemented by her personal skills,” he continued. “She empowers and raises up the teams around her, she tackles complex problems and sees opportunities that others do not, and she believes in the power of a tightly connected network of talent to push an organization forward.”
Kuh O’Rorke was excited to join the agency world which, like media, faces similar challenges in adapting and finding new ways to grow in a data- and technology-driven world, she told Campaign US.
“We're adjacent industries. We work in the business of IP and delivering on brand vision and promise to consumers,” she said. “What's exciting for me is the opportunity to learn a new business.”
As the world emerges from COVID-19, the agency sector can learn from the media world to create new business models in advertising. For instance, Kuh O’Rorke sees an opportunity for agencies to co-own some of the IP they create for clients.
“There are new ways for us to participate in the economic structure,” she said. “We don't have to continue charging a rate card. As we create these iconic images and messages, what does it mean to participate in a co-owned structure vs. just a transactional [relationship]?”
As Kuh O’Rorke settles into her new role, she will have to grapple with the dynamics of a tight labor market in which employees are moving to new jobs or leaving the industry altogether. For a company like McCann, being able to compete for the best talent is critical, as is being disciplined in getting ROI out of talent that comes in, she said.
“Talent will always be worth spending for if it derives value,” she added. “You have to compete for talent, because this company is only as good as the talent it can retain.”
Kuh O’Rorke is McCann’s latest executive hire under Kolb, who took over as global CEO in October 2020 when longtime CEO Harris Diamond retired.
Kolb has looked outside the agency world for talent as he builds his team, including most recently bringing on Alex Lopez from Nike as president and global creative chairman, as the business reshapes itself for a post-COVID workforce.
“We've spent years and decades doing business the same way because that's how it's been done,” Kuh O’Rorke said. “But COVID has given society a bit of a reset in how we think about work/life integration, travel and relationships. It would be a miss to not take this opportunity to redefine how we do business.”