GroupM adds Initiative’s Scott Laird as chief people officer

WPP’s GroupM has appointed Initiative’s Scott Laird as its new chief people officer, in what is new CEO Aimee Buchanan‘s first senior hire since taking up the role at the start of this month.

Laird will move across from the IPG Mediabrands agency in January 2022 and is set to replace Cindy Grass, who steps down this month after being chief HR and talent officer since 2017. After 14 years at WPP, Grass is stepping away to “pursue new opportunities”.

Former Omnicom Media Group executive Erin Jakubans was announced as Laird’s replacement at Initiative today.

In the role, Laird will lead people and culture practice, working with the HR leads at GroupM agencies Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker and Essence.

Scott Laird

Laird was made chief people officer at Initiative this year, after joining as director – people and culture in 2017. He moved across from Publicis Groupe, where he was people and culture manager.

Buchanan said: “Our people are the most important asset of GroupM, and are what helps us innovate, differentiate, and generate value for our clients. We are thrilled to have someone with Scott’s talent, energy and passion joining our leadership team. Scott has always impressed me with his innovative and empathetic approach to people & culture. I look forward to working with him to ensure that our people are nurtured, developed and supported in every way possible.”

Laird added: “I was immediately drawn to GroupM’s mission of making advertising work better for people. An exciting and bold mission that simplifies the connection between the people strategy and the businesses ambition to help shape the next era of media. I’m thrilled to join Aimee and the GroupM team at what is an exciting time for the network, its agencies and people.”

On Grass’ departure, Buchanan added: “Cindy has had a tremendous impact on our business, and more importantly our people, in Australia over the years and she leaves with our full appreciation for everything she has done and our best wishes for the future.” 

GroupM said that Laird’s appointment will see him lead training and development in diversity, equity and inclusion across the network.

Laird was recognised at the Mumbrella NeXt awards in 2019 for the Business Administration and Support category. The judges comments said: “Scott will be everyone’s boss in five year’s time and given his thoughtful and valuable contributions to the LGBTQI community and mental health, he’ll only drive our industry into the future it deserves. The jury said he has a big future ahead.”

He has been commended elsewhere for his approach to wellbeing, culture and learning as well as leading several diversity and inclusion initiatives during his time at the Mediabrands agency.

GroupM appointed Sean Bone as general manager, commerce, and Adam Peruch as head of investment intelligence. Bone replaces Roger Dunn, who was revealed to be leaving GroupM two weeks ago. 


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