OMD names Laura Nice and Sian Whitnall co-CEOs

Omnicom Media Group has appointed OMD managing director, Laura Nice, and chief digital officer, Sian Whitnall as co-CEOs, ending several months of speculation over the vacant role.

The duo replace Aimee Buchanan, who stepped across the aisle taking on the GroupM CEO role at rival group WPP last month. The appointments of Nice and Whitnall are effective immediately.

The appointments continue a trend at OMD of CEO’s being internal promotions rather than external recruitments. Both Buchanan and Peter Horgan before her promoted into the role. The agency said that the elevation is a “testament to OMD’s commitment to offer its people growth opportunities and to the bench strength of the national leadership team”.

Nice and Whitnall

Horgan, CEO of Omnicom Media Group ANZ, said: “Laura and Sian are both phenomenal leaders, proven performers and passionate OMDers. They have been fundamental to OMD’s ongoing growth and success over recent years and are embedded across all areas of the business. Together, their complementary skillsets and ability to work as a team, is exactly what OMD needs for the future of our business. OMD has a history of success with leadership partnerships and given the size and scale of OMD Australia, there is no better time to revisit this winning formula.”

Horgan told Mumbrella in September that he would love to replace a high profile female with another high profile female, and this has been this has been achieved, twice fold with the news.

Nice has been with the agency, just over two years, after rejoining after a period at OMG’s data and tech and analytics business, Annalect, where she was head of consultancy and development. Her first stint at OMD lasted four-and-a-half years, culminating with Nice leading the agency’s Telstra account, having also led the McDonald’s account. She then returned to the UK, joining Vizeum as group head.

Peter Horgan, CEO of OMG and former OMD CEO

She said: “As an ‘OMD Boomeranger’ I know firsthand the benefits of working for a culture as strong as OMD Australia’s. To be given the opportunity to lead the next chapter with Sian is a proud moment, as we strive to build on OMD’s current success and momentum. Personally, I’m excited to focus on the depth and breadth of our client relationships and identify growth opportunities for our people to further develop their capability and evolve our offering for the future.”

Whitnall joined OMD in 2013 as interactive director, with her most recent role being national chief digital officer. OMD said that Whitnall’s digital transformation initiative, OMD Navigate has helped drive “strong business results” for the agency and its clients. The agency said she is a “future facing product specialist”.

Whitnall said: “I feel so passionately about OMD so it’s an absolute privilege for Laura and myself to be given the opportunity to lead the agency. I am excited to continue working alongside OMD’s incredible talent, to grow the capability within the brand and to drive growth for our clients in areas that will have the most impact for their businesses.”

The pair replace recently appointed GroupM CEO, Aimee Buchanan

The duo will take on responsibility for OMD’s national assets, and lead the 600 staff-strong agency.

Nice has been joint managing director, alongside Kim Hamilton for two-and-a-half years. Hamilton will remain MD, Mumbrella understands, with an announcement to come soon regarding the wider OMD leadership structure changes.

Outside of their role together, questions have been asked previously about the effectiveness of joint leadership positions.

Sister agency, PHD recently restructured its leadership team, which resulted in joint managing directors, Lucy Formosa Morgan leaving the agency, and Stuart Bailey promoted to COO.

OMD is not the first agency to appoint joint local CEOs. VMLY&R appointed both Peter Bosilkovski and Aden Hepburn as joint CEOs when WPP merged VLM and Y&R in 2018.  Bosilkovski departed after seven months and was later appointed CEO of Clemenger BBDO Sydney, a role he left last month. Hepburn followed a month later to start Akcelo, with Jon Bird taking over as sole CEO of the agency.

WPP also merged The White Agency and Grey Group together in May 2017, forming White Grey, in doing so appointing Paul Worboys and Miles Joyce as joint CEOs. Both left within less than two weeks of each other less than a year later in February 2018.

Bastion Insights also has joint CEOs in Ali Dexter, leading the Melbourne office, and Peter Harris in Sydney.

This also follows a run of female CEO appointments in recent months, with last week Kirsty Muddle being appointed CEO of Dentsu Creative Group. She joined Sue Squillace, who was appointed as CEO of Dentsu Media Group in July. Mumbrella discussed recent female CEO appointments on the Mumbrellacast at the end of September. 


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