WPP has finally sworn in former Wunderman global chief executive Mark Read as its new boss following months of speculation about the successor to Sir Martin Sorrell.
Read, who has been joint chief operating officer of the agency group since Sorrell’s shock exit in April, had been widely tipped for the top role ever since.
His fellow joint COO Roberto Quarta has now resumed his role as non-executive chairman.
Quarta said: “The board carried out a rigorous selection process, assessing internal and external candidates. That process, alongside Mark’s wise and effective stewardship of the business in the last few months, left us with no doubt that he is the right leader for this company.”
He added that Read “has an intimate understanding of the business, enjoys very strong internal support, and has earned the respect and endorsement of our clients with his constant focus on their needs”.
Read has played a central role in many of WPP’s most successful investments and initiatives, and he has deep experience at board and operational level, Quarta insisted.
Read first joined WPP in 1989 as a corporate development manager, staying five years. He then had a spell at Booz & Co before founding online loyalty business WebRewards in 1999, which was subsequently sold to Bertelsmann. Read returned to WPP in 2002 as director of strategy and has been with the company ever since.
Read was appointed to the main board in 2006 after taking on the role of CEO of WPP Digital but stepped down in 2015; he took on the additional job of CEO at Wunderman in 2015, succeeding Daniel Morrel.
Read, who will also sit on the WPP board as executive director, said: “Our industry is going through a period of structural change, not structural decline, and if we embrace that change we can look ahead to an exciting and successful future. Our mission now is to release the full potential that exists within the company for the benefit of our clients, to accelerate our transformation and simplify our offering, and to position WPP for stronger growth.
“To achieve that we need to foster a culture that attracts the best and brightest: inclusive, respectful, collaborative, diverse. What makes our company special is its people, and I am very proud to have been given the chance to build a new WPP with them.”
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