LONDON—Alison Canning, who joined Edelman Public Relations two years ago when firm acquired her social responsibility and management consulting boutique First&42nd, is leaving the firm after a decision to streamline its international management structure eliminated the role of president of international operations, which she assumed last year.
Hugh Gillanders, head of Edelman’s office in Ireland, has been appointed chief operating officer for Europe.
According to agency president and CEO Richard Edelman, “We’ve removed the international operations position, because we need a flatter, one-firm approach that allows us to be a true communications partner for companies operating in multiple markets.” The reorganization is a departure from its previous structure, in place since the early 70s, which separated U.S. and international operations.
“We’re very grateful to Alison for her contribution in building our operation outside the U.S. and we are absolutely committed to continuing to improve our global network,” says Edelman. During the last 24 months Edelman acquired firms in Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands, and international revenues remained stable, despite tough economic conditions around the world.
Said Canning, “As a next step in globalizing the firm it makes sense to remove the delineation between the U.S. and international regions—Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Canada. I was not interested in limiting my role to Europe, so I have decided to leave the company.” She said she was confident that the leadership changes throughout the international operation over the past two years, along with new management and financial systems, “will help Edelman serve clients on a more consistent basis around the world.”
As for her own future, “The global communications world continues to evolve and I want to return to the more strategic and consultative end of the business.”
The firm will conduct a search for someone to serve as chief executive of the European network, which recorded $45 million in revenues (21 percent of the firm’s global revenue) during the fiscal year that ended June 30.