Virginia Hyland handed Havas Media CEO role as Matt Houltham departs

Havas Media Group Australia has named Virginia Hyland as its new chief executive in a leadership change that has seen Matt Houltham exit the business.

The appointment comes just three months after Havas acquired Hyland’s then-independent agency that carried her name.

Virginia Hyland was described as ‘an impressive industry leader’

Houltham had been in the CEO role for only 12 months following four years as group managing director of Havas Melbourne.

In an interview with Mumbrella in September, Houltham said it was difficult to describe the Havas Media CEO role during COVID conditions “without using expletives”.

Havas Group said replacing Houltham with Hyland follows the “successful integration” of her agency.

Hyland moved into the Havas Village in September and became the ‘Hyland Division’, bringing Coty, Church & Dwight, Etihad, Kitchen Aid and Deliveroo as clients.

Havas Group ANZ chairman, Anthony Freedman, said in a statement that “incredible momentum” had built among staff and clients since the acquisition in August.

“Virginia is an impressive industry leader and entrepreneur, so we are excited about her taking the helm of our business as it builds scale,” he said.

Freedman thanked Houltham for his “hard work and commitment” that was “never more evident and necessary than during this challenging year.”

Matt Houltham was only in the Havas Media CEO role for 12 months

Houltham joined Havas in January 2016 after five years as managing director at Naked, initially in Melbourne and latter in New York.

Prior to this, he spent five years as digital partner across Publicis agencies, Zenith Optimedia and Mojo.

Speaking of the CEO role in September, Houltham acknowledged that “some days you think, goodness, this was terrible timing and a terrible decision”.

But he added that “even when strange things happen, if you’re working with great people who are resilient, then you can work through it.”

Hyland, who founded her agency in 2005, said: “We are already seeing the power of bringing diverse talent together to create more dynamic solutions for clients.

“I am excited about shaping the next chapter for the media business with innovation at its core.

“I would like to thank Matt for his guidance and advice since becoming part of the Havas Media team and wish him success in the future.”


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