Rachel Friend To Leave Weber Shandwick

The departure of the agency’s UK CEO is the latest in a series of leadership shake-ups within IPG.

Rachel Friend, the UK chief executive of Weber Shandwick, is to leave after more than nine years with the firm, the Holmes Report has learned.

Friend was promoted into her current role in January 2018, after being London MD for five years. She joined Weber Shandwick in August 2010 as MD of consumer marketing and became chair of consumer in EMEA in 2013. She had previously been head of consumer PR at Sainsbury’s supermarket, after nine years as head of consumer at Hill + Knowlton.

It is not yet known what Friend’s next move will be. Weber Shandwick global president Gail Heimann told the Holmes Report: “Rachel Friend will be leaving Weber Shandwick to pursue her next chapter. We appreciate Rachel’s contributions and wish her every success in her next venture.

“Helen Bennett will continue to lead our London office and partner with our other UK MDs to drive continued success across the UK. Heather Blundell will continue to lead our thriving Manchester unit and Moray MacDonald and Natalie Buxton are driving our Scotland operations.”

Friend’s departure comes after a series of shake-ups at Weber Shandwick and the wider CMG group within IPG. Since taking on her elevated role last July, Heimann has reshaped the leadership team at Weber Shandwick, including EMEA chairman Tim Sutton and Asia-Pacific CEO Baxter Jolly now reporting to chief growth officer Susan Howe, as well as a number of other changes in North America.

Since Andy Polansky became CMG chairman at the same time as Heimann’s promotion, he has also made a series of leadership changes and streamlined operations, including merging Rogers & Cowan and PMK·BNC and DeVries Global with Golin subsidiary Canvas Blue.

Heidi Hovland departed as the DeVries Global CEO role was eliminated, with DeVries’ regional leaders now reporting directly to Golin president/COO Gary Rudnick. And in December, Golin leader Jon Hughes left after the firm’s shift to a single CEO in Matt Neale.

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