H&K Seeks New York GM as Sheldon Departs
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H&K Seeks New York GM as Sheldon Departs

Hill & Knowlton is looking for a new general manager for its New York office this week after the departure of Phil Sheldon, who had held the position for the past three years.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK, June 10—Hill & Knowlton is looking for a new general manager for its New York office this week after the departure of Phil Sheldon, who had held the position for the past three years. Diane Perry, recruited earlier this year to head the corporate and financial practice in New York, will fill in for Sheldon on an interim basis, but H&K’s U.S. chief executive MaryLee Sachs says the search for a permanent replacement will focus on external candidates.
 
Sachs said Sheldon’s departure was the result of “a mutual agreement” but conceded that while the firm has had some “nice wins” in recent months, the New York office had not shown the kind of growth the firm would have liked. Once H&K’s largest office, New York currently has about 100 employees—less than London—and ranks about ninth in the market.
 
Sheldon, meanwhile, said he was proud of his record as general manager in New York, but added, “We just have not grown. We made some strategic decisions, and some changes internally, and some key hires that I think put us in a strong position for future growth, but it was frustrating. We were not moving forward the way I would have liked.”
 
He added that he had every confidence in the ability of the firm’s new management team, led by Sachs and worldwide president Paul Taaffe, to continue growing the agency and the New York office.
 
Sheldon joined Hill & Knowlton in 2000, after leading the healthcare practice at Porter Novelli. Before that, he spent most of his career on the corporate side, most recently as vice president of corporate communications at Pharmacia.
 
He was the firm’s third New York general manager in as many years, following James Taylor—who went on to head marketing and communications at Gateway—and Mary Ellen Keating, who left to head the communications function at Barnes & Noble.
 
Sheldon says he is actively pursuing another role and has a strong preference for remaining on the agency side of the business, possibly in another general manager position.
 
“I enjoy the general manager role,” he says. “I like managing the business side of things, and I like the breadth of the role. I enjoyed the opportunity to work on some technology business and some consumer business at H&K, in addition to the healthcare and corporate work I was used to. And I like the agency world. You can make decisions quicker, and the variety of challenges you face is wider.”
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