Mark Coad’s best of 2019: A new gig and a resolved insurance claim, all in one week

To end 2019 on a positive note, Mumbrella's Brittney Rigby asks a number of media agency chief executives to share their best part of the year, both professionally and personally. Here, Mark Coad, former CEO of PHD and incoming CEO of IPG Mediabrands, shares his highlights.

‘What’s been your best professional moment of the year?’ is a “pretty easy” question for Mark Coad to answer. I suspected it would be. Just a few weeks ago, he stepped down as CEO of PHD after seven years to become CEO of IPG Mediabrands. It’s a career highlight, but it felt like a lowlight in some ways too. While he wasn’t worried about resigning to his bosses, he was worried about resigning to his team.

“I said this to IPG, I mean, if they had have approached me and I had have been out of a job, I would have knocked them over in the rush, it’s an absolute no brainer,” Coad tells me.

“The hardest part of the decision was deciding to leave what we’d put together and the people. I didn’t have any trouble resigning to the people I work for, they were fairly straightforward conversations. I really struggled to resign to the staff. That was the hardest part.”

“We sort of assembled everyone on the Friday morning when the time was right when we synchronised watches and I stood in front of them and explained myself.

“I’m no different to all of them. We all seek promotion and advancement, we all seek new challenges, and the time’s just right. So I didn’t have any trouble with the rationale, I probably had more trouble emotionally explaining that to them, seeing a few tears around the house, but we got through that.”

But the decision felt right, because he’s leaving the agency “after achieving everything we set out to achieve” and “in such good shape”.

“Not that I’m pleased to leave, but pleased the way I’ve left it and in the hands I’ve left it in,” he says.

Those hands belong to Mark Jarrett, PHD’s managing director who was propelled into the CEO position following Coad’s resignation. Coad knows Jarrett’s the right person for the job, and that he’ll capably lead a team that is now ready to “take half a step forward”.

“The decision was never did I want to do that other job, the real decision was ‘Do I want to leave what we’ve done here?'” Coad explains.

“And that wasn’t me being a martyr, and taking one for the team. It’s not about that. But it’s definitely a lot more pleasing knowing that they’re all going to advance and go on with it.”

The same week Coad’s next move was made public, “everything else fell into place for me as well, which is quite weird”.

“Look, I haven’t had a tough year, but I’ve had a lot of shit going on in my life this year,” he says.

“I’ve had insurance claims on a house that’s dragged on all year. And it’s literally done my head in. We bought a new property late last year and it’s taken all year to sell the last one. So I’ve had my anxieties this year. I mean nothing compared to what some people deal with, but enough to bloody feel like I’ve dragged a bit of a weight around for a large part of the year.”

In March, Coad got a call from a neighbour who lives next to his holiday house down the Victorian coast. “There’s water running out your front and back door,” the neighbour said. A pipe had blown in the kitchen, filling the entire house with water.

“Having said all that, the week that I announced my plans to resign, we sold the house that we’ve been trying to sell, the insurance job on the house that’s been damaged has been resolved. And my daughter’s a very good equestrian, she’s been wanting to breed her horse for four years, and the foal fell out the same week,” Coad says.

“So I’ve finished the year on a real high.”


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