LONDON—Howard Paster, who is responsible for WPP’s public relations and public affairs operations, has stepped down from the board of the company and plans to stop working full time at the end of the year.
Paster, who was chief executive of Hill & Knowlton before taking on broader responsibility for WPP’s entire PR portfolio—including Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe and Ogilvy Public Relations—in August of 2002, says he told WPP chief Martin Sorrell that he wanted to stop working at the end of the year, and that it made sense for him to step down now because the entire board was standing for re-election at the company’s annual meeting.
“It was illogical for me to stand for re-election to the board knowing I’d resign at year’s end,” says Paster. “By December I will have worked for WPP for 17 of the last 18 years, which creates deep and lasting ties.” He described the move as a “personal decision reached more than a year ago. I turn 62 in December and have two grandchildren who I do not see enough.”
Before joining Hill & Knowlton to lead the firm’s turnaround following several difficult years in the late 80s and early 90s, Paster had served as an assistant to President Bill Clinton and director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. He is also a member of the board of trustees of Tuskegee University, president of the Little League Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Paster says he expects to continue working with WPP is a part-time or consultative role. He could also return to politics, if Senator Hilary Clinton decides to make a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Also at the general meeting, WPP announced revenue growth of 17 percent and organic revenue growth of 4.5 percent for the first five months of 2006, with the U.K. the only region not to show double-digit growth. Advertising and media investment management was up more than 11 percent; information, insight and consultancy was up almost 8 percent and public relations and public affairs was up more than 8 percent.