Melinda Geertz departs Leo Burnett, Emma Montgomery becomes CEO

Leo Burnett Australia and Melbourne CEO Melinda Geertz is departing the agency, and will be replaced by Emma Montgomery, who recently returned to Australia to take up the role of CEO of Leo Burnett Sydney.

Geertz’ tenure as national CEO began in 2017, prior to which she was the sole CEO of Leo Burnett Melbourne for 15 years. Her departure ends a stint of more than 30 years with the company, which began at Leo Burnett Chicago.

Geertz departs the agency after more than 30 years

Montomery will add-on the national CEO role, just a few short months after starting as the Sydney office’s chief. She was the first to serve in the Sydney CEO role since 2018 following Peter Bosilkovski’s resignation.

Montgomery was previously the head of strategy at Leo Burnett Sydney, before moving overseas with the company to serve as president and chief strategy officer in Chicago.

She then departed Leo Burnett entirely and has most recently worked as the global co-chief strategy officer for TBWA/Worldwide, based out of Los Angeles.

Geertz said: “I’ve loved this agency for more than three decades. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found a company early on in my career that gave me so much opportunity, trust and respect.

“Leo Burnett has been an amazing part of my life, and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve been able to build and achieve over all these years.”

Publicis Group ANZ CEO, Michael Rebelo, thanked Geertz for her service to the agency.

“Melinda has had a long and inspirational career with Leo Burnett, and has been the driving leadership force behind the many years of the agency’s success. Melinda has been a true bastion of creativity, an inspirer of many and a great human to work for, and with,” he said.

“On behalf of Publicis Groupe, I would like to thank her for every ounce of blood, sweat and passion she has given Leo Burnett and the Groupe.

“In Melinda’s infinite wisdom, she leaves her beloved Leo Burnett in fantastic hands with Emma Montgomery stepping into the national CEO role. Emma has Leo Burnett in her veins, a global perspective and multifaceted experience having worked in both creative, media and in global chief strategy roles.”

Montgomery returned to Australia earlier this year as CEO of Leo Burnett Sydney

Geertz added she believes Montgomery is the right replacement as she steps away from Leo Burnett, revealing she’ll be heading to the US to visit her father. Mumbrella understands she plans to continue living in Melbourne beyond that.

“I was thrilled that Emma wanted to come ‘home’. Emma’s just the right person to step up and lead Leo Burnett. It’s the perfect time to hand over the reins – there’s so much energy, growth and momentum in the business as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“The hardest thing for me is saying goodbye to the remarkable people I’ve worked with – agency colleagues and client partners – who have made every day at Leo’s interesting, challenging, exciting, purposeful and very fulfilling. I’m so grateful.

“Right now, I’m focused on our people and clients. Nothing’s changed. And as soon as it’s possible, I’ll head back to the U.S. to spend time with my family there. My dad turns 100 this year, so that’s where I want to be.”

Montgomery thanked Geertz for her leadership: “Our agency philosophy is really simple – ‘what helps people, helps business’. Melinda has been the embodiment of that in her work, in how she has led the agency, and in the depth of impact she has driven, and I am forever grateful for having had the experience to work alongside her.

“Today, there are far more ways businesses can create value for the people they serve, using every part of their brand experience to create change in new and interesting ways.

“As I look to the future of Leo Burnett, I am excited to bring my own multidisciplinary, multi-market experience to our clients, strategic partners and the talented people I get to work with each day.”

Leo Burnett Group global CEO, Andrew Swinand, said: “Melinda has played an indispensable role in Leo Burnett globally and under her leadership has cemented the agency as one of Australia’s leading creative shops.

“We would like to thank her for her enduring commitment to our people and our product. We look forward to seeing Leo Burnett’s strength in Australia continue under Emma’s leadership, who I have had the pleasure of working with closely in her recent role as President and Chief Strategy Officer here in Chicago.”


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