Copithorne Ascends to Presidency at Porter Novelli
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Copithorne Ascends to Presidency at Porter Novelli

Porter Novelli has named David Copithorne global chief executive officer, replacing Bob Druckenmiller, who will continue to serve as chairman of the world’s seventh largest public relations firm.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK, November 5—In a move anticipated for several months, Porter Novelli has named David Copithorne global chief executive officer, replacing Bob Druckenmiller, who will continue to serve as chairman of the world’s seventh largest public relations firms.
In additional moves, the firm named Helen Ostrowski president of Porter Novelli North America, Michael Gehb global chief financial officer, Gary Stockman chief operating officer of Porter Novelli North America, and Julie Winskie general manager of Porter Novelli’s New York office. The changes are all effective January 1.
“This is the culmination of a long-term plan we put in place two years ago,” says Druckenmiller. “When we merged Porter Novelli and Copithorne & Bellows, Dave assumed responsibility for our U.S. operations. Now he is prepared to take over as chief executive of Porter Novelli worldwide.” Copithorne, meanwhile, points to the fact that all the promotions came from within the firm—like the recent promotion of Rob Gould to head the Washington, D.C., office—as an indication of the smoothness of the transition.
Druckenmiller’s role will be “to act as an advisor to the rest of us, to be our brand steward, our visionary and our spokesperson,” says Copithorne. “He will be our representative to the industry.” He will also play a role in the firm’s professional development activity as dean of the leadership program.
Copithorne will lead Porter Novelli’s international executive committee and oversee the company’s regional operations in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia/Pacific. The committee includes Ostrowski; European chief executive Neil Backwith; Annie Bentley, CEO of Bentley Porter Novelli in Hong Kong and Singapore; Gehb; Ian Cummings, CFO of Porter Novelli Europe; and Ada Parr, international executive director.
Stockman, another veteran of the Copithorne & Bellows operation, will be chief operating officer, with responsibility for human resources, information technology and client services. He will also work directly with the general managers of the firm’s offices to develop best professional practices that can be shared agency-wide.
Winskie, meanwhile, will take over from Ostrowski as general manager in New York, while maintaining her responsibility for the global consumer practice.
Internationally, Porter Novelli will continue the integration of its operations, most of which functioned under their own brands until relatively recently. “We want to get a clear and consistent focus on what Porter Novelli does and what the brand really means,” says Copithorne. “We have extended the brand into all regions and we have started bringing consistency to our operations through of global professional development program focused on achieving excellence across borders.”
Client service will be a major focus, as the firm extends its Signature Service program across regions and all four practice areas: consumer marketing, convergence (PN’s term for its technology group), healthcare, and corporate and public affairs.
Says Druckenmiller, “It’s been five years since we introduced the Porter Novelli brand outside the U.S. for the first time and in that time we have brought together a very strong leadership team. We have a new management team in place that is a combination of veterans and younger people and I think we are well positioned going forward with a focus on growth.”
Domestically, the firm will be focusing on its new brand positioning—Insight, Ideas, Impact—and on a new strategic planning process, called Compass. Ostrowski says it will also focus more heavily on developing the corporate and public affairs practice, which has not gained the recognition of the other three practices in the U.S.
Copithorne says that through the first three quarters of 2001, the firm’s business “was flat or slightly negative” but that he expected the fourth quarter—following the events of September 11—to be down, causing a slight decline in revenues for the year overall.
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