Wilson resigns as MSLGroup North America president

Renee Wilson is stepping down as president of MSL North America and moving into the role of chief client officer.

NEW YORK: Renee Wilson is stepping down as president of MSLGroup North America and moving into the role of chief client officer.

She will remain on the MSLGroup global board and will continue in her current position until her replacement is named, a search for which is under way.

“I will remain in my current role until a successor is on board and ensure that there is a smooth transition,” said Wilson. “I am confident that Olivier [Fleurot, CEO of MSLGroup] will name a successor shortly.”

“This was my own choice,” she added. “I was grateful that [Fleurot] gave me the chance to serve as president of [MSL] North America. I want to spend more time with my family and I appreciate the fact that [he] recognizes that. My focus now will be on client development and I will be working with all of our top clients.”

Wilson stepped into the president of North America role in September 2012, overseeing the agency's operations in the US and Canada. She replaced Jim Tsokanos, who left after an 11-year career at MSLGroup. Joel Curran, who recently took the role of vice chancellor for communications and public affairs at the University of North Carolina, replaced her as MD of the New York office at that time.

Wilson had previously served in a dual role as New York MD and chief client officer, working with clients such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Bayer, Kellogg, and Tiffany.

Fleurot told PRWeek that he and Wilson had been discussing her role change for the last few weeks and the firm has started looking for someone to lead North America in her place.

“We are seeing very good candidates, and hopefully we can come to a decision before the end of Q1,” he said.

Fleurot added that the agency is considering replacements from both inside and outside Publicis Groupe.

MSLGroup's parent company, Publicis Groupe, is in the process of merging with former rival Omnicom Group to form the largest marketing services holding company in the world. Executives from the two holding companies said last November they expect to complete the combination by mid-year at the latest.

Earlier this month, Publicis acquired independent public affairs-focused shop Qorvis Communications with plans to merge it into the MSLGroup network. Former Qorvis managing partner Michael Petruzzello took the role of president at the rebranded Qorvis MSLGroup, reporting to Wilson.

Fleurot said in a memo to senior staff on Friday that she “asked to step aside from the role of regional president, North America, and to move to a more flexible schedule.”

“Together, Renee and I felt that a move to a senior client-facing role would make the most of her outstanding professional expertise,” he said. “To this end, I have asked Renee to become our global chief client officer, a role she will take up as soon as her successor is named.”

Fleurot added in the memo that Bob Bejan incorporated the chief client officer role into his duties as chief development officer when Wilson was named North American president.

“We now have an opportunity to separate those roles once again, a move that I believe will enable us to build on the important momentum achieved to date in the areas of both client engagement and business growth,” he said.  

MSLGroup also obtained Clarus Research Group as part of the deal.

MSL and Publicis are facing a gender-discrimination lawsuit alleging widespread gender pay discrimination. 

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