MullenLowe Profero has announced three changes to its global leadership team:
- Aaron Reitkopf, chief executive for the Americas as well as president of MullenLowe Group New York, adds global chairman to his responsibilities, effective immediately.
- The company has hired Ben Mooney, previously director of sales and partner alliances with Publicis Sapient, based in Sydney, as global head of business transformation.
- Founder and global chief executive Wayne Arnold will depart MullenLowe Profero on March 25.
Mooney’s newly created role can be interpreted as a strong signal of the agency’s intention to be known as a digital transformation partner more than a traditional digital agency. He will be responsible for new business, developing global client relationships, overseeing talent transformation and building deeper collaboration with technology partners, according to the company. He will remain based in Sydney initially, relocating to New York in 2018.
Arnold made it clear that his departure is 100% his own choice. "As anyone who runs a global business knows, these jobs are all time-consuming," he told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "So I’ve personally committed, to myself and my family, including my seven-month-old daughter, that I will take a minimum of ten months." He does not have a next move in mind, and plans to use the time to figure out a vision for his next decade of work. "Taking 10% of the time out to figure out what you’ll do for the other 90% seems reasonable," he said.
Arnold’s 25 March departure date, it turns out, is 20 years to the day that he founded Profero in an office behind a "not-so-beautiful laundrette" in the London borough of Islington. Interpublic bought the agency in 2014 and added it to what was then Lowe and Partners.
Although the selection of his exact departure date certainly indicates a flair for the dramatic, Arnold said the move was part of his five-year plan when he moved to Singapore in 2013. "I like succession planning," he said simply.
Arnold believes this was "a watershed year", during which the industry accelerated its shift from traditional marketing communications to "business transformation around digital touchpoints". When such big changes occur, you need to restructure, and you need to bring in new talent that’s even better suited than you are for the new reality, Arnold said. As such, Reitkopf’s promotion and the new role for Mooney reflect the agency’s vision for the future of marketing, he said.
"We’re combining incredible stability—all our MDs are homegrown—with people who are going to bring in great new perspectives," he added.
In a prepared statement, Arnold said it is "deeply satisfying to leave the business with strong leadership and a compelling market proposition," and thanked the thousands of people who have been part of the 20-year journey.
Mooney has experience in Australia, Africa and the UK, including management positions at Razorfish, ArdentDigital, BlueArc and Ryarc. Reitkopf has been the agency group’s Americas CEO since 2010, and was appointed the first president of MullenLowe Group’s New York office in 2016.
Alex Liekikh, MullenLowe global chief executive, said in a statement that the changes testify to Arnold’s "visionary and tenacious" global strategy.